Any problems with Brexit, the global economy or negative financial headlines won’t impact the foundation of Panama’s economy. That’s the conclusion of the analysts for financial giant JP Morgan Chase, who recently raised their recommendation on Panama bonds to “overweight” from “marketweight.”
If anything, recent turmoil has created buying opportunities for Panama’s bonds, which have under-performed the market this year, even though the economy remains strong, JP Morgan concludes. Panama’s economy is expected to grow more than 6 percent in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“The real economic consequences of this fiasco are not going to be all that severe,” JP Morgan emerging market analyst Franco Uccelli told Bloomberg. “Everything else that has been sustaining growth in the country is very much there, and is there to stay. If the bonds have underperformed as a consequence of some risk aversion related to the Panama Papers scandal, then you should be buying Panama.”
Several factors led to JP Morgan’s optimism. The expansion of the Panama Canal and the continued construction of the Panama City metro will drive the economy, the report says. Panama’s dollar bonds have returned 9.8 percent this year, compared to 12 percent for emerging markets, according to Bloomberg’s USD Emerging Market Sovereign Bond Index.
While JP Morgan was specifically analyzing the strength of Panama’s bond market, it was essentially providing a report on the health of Panama’s economy. Their answer is that business in Panama is strong and, for the property market, that translates as a solid foundation for continued growth and more buyers and renters. According to JP Morgan, Panama’s economy is based on solid fundamentals.
While many countries in Latin America are struggling, the firm was also positive on Colombia, which it raised to marketweight from underweight, due to a decrease in political uncertainty, rising oil prices and decrease in debt. And Ecuador as raised to overweight, primarily based on the increase in oil prices.
Jeff Barton is managing director of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.