Foreign investments by pension funds protect Canada’s triple-A credit rating Since 2011, the value of Canada’s overseas assets has more than doubled, says the global credit rating agency Fitch Canadian corporations have ramped up their spending abroad as Canada deals with significant levels of debt.Darryl Dyck/Bloomberg Esteban Duarte Sponsored By: Email Comment Facebook Bloomberg News Join the conversation → Featured Stories 0 Comments ← Previous Next → Recommended For YouChina’s commodity demand holds up, with copper the exception: RussellCorn jumps 1% to hit 5-year high as forecast stokes supply woesChina Q2 GDP growth slows to 6.2% y/y, 27-year lowChina’s June crude oil throughput up 7.7% on year to 53.7 mln tonnes – stats bureauChina Q2 GDP rises 6.2% y/y, slowest in at least 27 years What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation April 23, 201912:21 PM EDT Filed under News FP Street More advertisement Reddit Twitter Share this storyForeign investments by pension funds protect Canada’s triple-A credit rating Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Canada’s trove of overseas assets, including airports and roads owned by pension funds, is helping to protect the country’s top credit rating, according to Fitch Ratings.Foreign assets held by Canadians reached $3.71 trillion US at the end of 2018, exceeding foreign liabilities by $528.6 billion US$ and making the country a net creditor to the rest of the world.That’s helping to support the credit rating, despite a mountain of public-sector debt and persistent current account deficits that would typically undermine a nation’s creditworthiness, Fitch said. The current account includes trade in goods and services, as well as net earnings on cross-border investments and transfer payments. Stephen Poloz’s dashboard: The latest charts that matter most to the Bank of Canada CPPIB and Ontario Teachers’ on team buying British satellite operator Inmarsat for $3.4 billion Brookfield buys most of Oaktree in $4.8 billion deal to build juggernaut to rival Blackstone “Countries that run current account deficits are countries that tend to pull the rating down,” said James McCormack, Fitch’s global head of sovereign & supranational group. Nonetheless, “Canada is building more external assets than external liabilities.”Canada historically had been a debtor nation, with net liabilities peaking at $333 billion US in 2011, according to Statistics Canada. But since then, the country has seen the value of its foreign assets more than double, helped in part by a weaker Canadian dollar. That outpaced a 72 per cent increase in liabilities. The nation turned from debtor to creditor in 2014.The $2.2 trillion US economy is supporting public sector debt — provincial and federal — equivalent to almost 90 per cent of its output, compared with an average of about 40 per cent for the 11 countries rated AAA by Fitch. Top-rated countries have on average been reporting current account surpluses while Canada has posted deficits of about two percentage points to almost four percentage points of gross domestic product in the last decade.Pension FundsThose weaknesses would put the country’s rating in the AA-range, were it not for a two-level uplift that Fitch applies to take into account issues including the net international investment position and unfunded pension commitments that are lower than its peers, wrote McCormack, who previously was a Bank of Canada official as well as a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumni.Only Canada and Denmark are given that adjustment, said McCormack.Pension funds such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec are playing a key role in bolstering Canada’s presence abroad. Pension fund assets rose 53 per cent to $1.92 trillion US at the end of 2018 from $1.25 trillion US in the second quarter of 2011, according to Statistics Canada.Clear LiabilitiesCPPIB, which manages the pension savings of all Canadians except those in Quebec, had $302.3 billion US of investments overseas in the fiscal year ended March 2018, or almost 85 per cent of its assets under management, according to its annual report. Last month, it committed about $900 million US in a joint bid for U.K. satellite company Inmarsat Plc.Almost two-thirds of the Caisse’s $309.5 billion US of assets at the end of last year were invested outside of Canada. On April 5, the Caisse announced a deal with with France’s Engie SA to buy 90 per cent of Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s pipeline unit TAG for $8.6 billion US.Other big overseas investors include Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which has about $350 billion US under management.“Despite heavily financing ourselves abroad, Canadians have not dug themselves into a foreign debt hole,” Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said Friday in a separate note. “If we sold everything we’ve added to our balance sheets in assets abroad, as a country, we could clear our liabilities.”To be sure, the country’s international net international investment position may be not enough to protect the country’s top rating should public debt ratios head upward and rise over 90 per cent of GDP, said McCormick.Also, the country’s net international investment position declined by $109.1 billion US in the last quarter after reaching record $637.7 billion US at the end September, according to government data.Shenfeld also cautions that in the next downturn the value of Canada’s overseas assets may slip while the country will still have to make interest payments on debt held abroad.