Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Fisher bullish on Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2016 | 2:18 PM

JSE CAPITAL MARKETS CONFERENCE

Managing Director of Jefferies Investment Bank, Gregory Fisher, is touting Jamaican bonds as a store of value amid the gloom that is enveloping world markets.

Given the rocky performance of commodities and continued contraction of the Chinese economy the investment adviser says the bond market is a good place to hedge against continued volatility.

“From my vantage point the volatility that we all witnessed in 2015 is likely to be more pervasive globally in 2016. However, the current global environment of very anaemic growth and ongoing low rates and/or a combination, it’s my opinion that the bond market will remain en vogue a heck of a lot longer,” Fisher said at the opening of the annual JSE Investments and Capital Markets Conference under way in New Kingston.

He said “liquidity is and should be the main focus of investing” and that Jamaica offers a bright spot among the limited choices, while noting that 2015 represented a turning point for the Jamaican economy.

“I know that this is election year and I know that I have to walk a fine line when following Jamaican politics but Prime Minister you have done an admirable job,” Fisher said, addressing PM Portia Simpson Miller who was at the opening ceremony.

“To see Jamaica’s Debt to GDP fall drastically over the past 12 months is certainly a sight for sore eyes. Improving fiscal balances and the first balance of payments surplus in 10 years, this is quite a feat in its own right,” said Fisher.

“From ongoing debt management liability actions to fiscal adjustments, it seems that Jamaica has finally regained its high level status as the economic player in the Caribbean,” Fisher said.

The Jefferies executive is well known to Jamaicans and is a yearly participant in the JSE Conference. He and his team were formerly with Oppenheimer, but recently shifted to Jefferies. Consequently, Oppenheimer was replaced by Jefferies as a main sponsor of the capital markets conference.

Fisher said that despite the ‘B’ investment grade rating for Jamaica’s sovereign bonds, the country is punching above its weight in terms of performance.

“As a matter of fact, Jamaica’s bonds were the seventh best performer within the global index that has 65 benchmark countries within it. Jamaica is even trading along with ‘double B’ countries such as Costa Rica and trading within higher prices than countries such as El Salvador and Brazil,” Fisher said.

This is evidence, he said, that what Jamaica has to offer represents a good investment deal.

“This is a solid sign of Jamaica’s improving credit status but also its liquid bond curve is now being regarded as a safe haven by US institutions. At the end, Jamaica has truly become a shining stare within a troubled global atmosphere,” Fisher reported.
The JSE capital markets conference opened Monday night and ends Wednesday.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com