Until Wednesday, Jamaica has been tagged with Standards and Poor’s, S&P, B+ rating for much of the two decades that the credit ratings firm has tracked the country’s sovereign risk to lend money.
With Jamaica moving up to BB- and just a step away from a coveted investment grade status we look back at the country’s history with S&P.
Chevon Campbell tells us more.
From CCC to BB and two selective defaults along the way.
Jamaica’s credit rating has been tied to its mixed financial fortunes over the past two decades. In 1999, when S&P first started rating the country, Jamaica was given a B with a stable outlook. The country was moved up to B+ in 2001 again with a stable outlook.
However, by December 2002 that outlook was downgraded to negative while the B+ rating was affirmed. The country was downgraded also to B in July 2003 with its outlook adjusted to stable
The year 2004 was a roller coaster with Jamaica’s outlook being changed to negative in February of that year and then back to positive in December.
The country’s outlook was again negative by October 2008. It then fell to B- by March 2009 with the outlook remaining negative.
August 2009 saw the country’s rating falling to CCC+ and then to its worst-ever recorded grade of CCC by November of the same year. During this period the country’s outlook remained negative.
It was during this period that the impact of the global financial crisis was felt.
According to S&P a rating of ‘CCC’ is vulnerable, and dependent on favourable business, financial, and economic conditions to meet its commitments.
It would come as no surprise that in January 2010 shortly after the first national debt exchange Jamaica was considered by S&P to have selectively defaulted.
By February of the same year, our rating improved to B- with a stable outlook. That outlook was revised to negative by October 2011. And, in February of 2013, Jamaica would again be hit with a selective default due to the second national debt exchange.
The year 2013 was another roller coaster, by the end of February Jamaica was rated B- with a stable outlook. It fell to CCC+ by March 6 with its outlook revised to negative the following day.
September 2014 would see the country bumped back up to B- with a stable outlook. A ‘B’ rating was to follow in June 2015. It would keep this B rating until September 2019, when it was again revised upward to B+.
Jamaica would again maintain its B+ rating with a brief revision of its outlook to negative as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic bit deep.
However, despite the pandemic pains, the country kept its B+ rating until just Wednesday when it was revised upward to BB- with a stable outlook.
Speaking on Nationwide at Five, Dr. Clarke says this rating puts the country on track to reach Investment Grade status.
The BB- rating places Jamaica third among CARICOM Member states tracked by S&P. Only Montserrat and Trinidad and Tobago who both hold BBB- ratings are ahead of Jamaica.