As Bitcoin Rises, El Salvador’s Sovereign Bonds Soar 60% In 2023


Bonds issued by El Salvador, the first country in the world to establish Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender, are up 60% in value this year – rivaling Bitcoin’s 80% gains.

  • The sudden demand for the country’s national debt represents a massive sentiment shift around its financial position. Yields for El Salvador’s 10-year debt ran as high as 24% just 12 months ago, in line with distressed economies like Ukraine and Argentina.
  • However, the country successfully repaid $800 million of short-term debt in January, alongside interest, proving both media and credit rating agencies wrong.
  • Last year, Morgan Stanley anticipated that it was a good time to buy Salvadoran bonds, believing the government could “muddle through” its interest payments in the short term.
  • Aaron Stern, Chief Investment Officer at Converium Capital in Montreal, told Reuters that the nation’s bond prices were “divorced from fundamentals,” in the summer of 2022.
  • “The market was concerned about the administration’s willingness to pay,” he said. Now, the nation’s bonds look attractive next to the debt prices of other emerging market nations.
  • Data from Refinitiev shows that the nation’s bonds currently yield between 14% and 18%. Despite their bullish performance this year, some believe it’s not time to cash out.
  • “El Salvador is somewhat uniquely positioned as one of the highest yielding ‘performing’ distressed credits,” said BNP Paribas’ Nathalie Marshik, a managing director for Latin America fixed income.

  • El Salvador’s bond performance has mimicked that of Bitcoin throughout the past year, crashing in the summer of 2022 before rallying across the first half of 2023.
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