Peru Seeks to Slow Growth In Dollar-Denominated Mortgages – Velarde

Peru’s government plans to implement measures aimed at slowing down growth of mortgages in U.S. dollars, the president of the Central Bank, Julio Velarde, said Friday.

About 44 percent of Peru’s private-sector loans are in dollars, which is still a source of risk for the Andean country as a sharp swing in the exchange rate between the dollar and sol could affect the ability of individuals to repay loans.

While the dollarization in Peru’s economy remains a concern for officials, it has decreased steadily over the past decade. In 2000, about 80 percent of the private-sector loans were in dollars, double today’s figures, according to Central Bank statistics. 

Nevertheless, dollar-denominated loans continue to rise strongly, especially for consumer credit. Credit card loans rose 19.5 percent in July, compared to the year-earlier month, while car loans in dollars jumped 44.4 percent, the Central Bank says.

Also, dollar-denominated mortgages posted growth of 23.8 percent in July compared to the same month last year, according to the bank.

Loans are often taken in dollars by people who earn their salaries in Peruvian soles because they offer lower interest rates and because people expect the trend of the sol strengthening against the dollar to continue. Velarde warned that the currency mismatch could cause serious problems for loan holders and banks if the sol depreciates quickly, which could easily happen in the highly uncertain global economy.

Velarde did not give many details on the initiative to slow growth in dollar-denominated mortgages, but he did say that it has the support of Peru’s private-banking sector. He said the banking regulator, the SBS, is working on a proposal.

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