EM bonds

By Dorthe Fredsgaard Nielsen, GAM

This year began with a rather pessimistic macroeconomic backdrop for emerging market (EM) countries, influenced mainly by deflating of the global commodity bubble, China’s seemingly endless malaise and growing geopolitical risks.

From a micro-economic perspective, the picture was just as bleak. Since the end of the financial crisis, EM corporates had been increasing their debt loads to fund future growth in anticipation of continued strong pricing power and high growth rates. However, both pricing power and profitability were lower than expected, leaving many companies, particularly in the mining and energy sectors, highly leveraged.

This is now stabilising. Balance sheets of EM corporates look much healthier than those of their US counterparts and the strength differential is likely to increase further as US companies continue to add to their debt (figure 1). Read more

By David Lubin, Citi

You often hear economists and investors talk these days about the ‘broken growth model’ in emerging markets. It isn’t a terribly precise term but it’s easy to see what people mean. The problem in EM is that none of the three possible sources of GDP growth – exports, or public domestic spending, or private domestic spending – have much going for them.

Exports from EM are hobbled by a collapse in the growth of global trade and the related fall in world commodity prices. Public spending growth is weak because many governments are too nervous to loosen fiscal policy, fearing a loss of sovereign creditworthiness at a time when the outlook for capital inflows isn’t encouraging. And private domestic spending is hampered by the fact that credit markets in many countries are in ‘post-boom’ mode: neither domestic lenders nor borrowers have much in the way of risk appetite. Read more

In recent weeks, investors have been reminded how supposed risk-free assets, like Treasuries and bunds, can still inflict substantial losses. So far in the second quarter of this year, 10-year yields have risen by nearly 0.48 per cent in Germany and by 0.31 per cent in the US.

As a result, the JPMorgan GBI Global bond index is down 2.72 per cent in the year to date. With bond yields expected to drift higher as global growth and inflation pick up, this will continue to be the case. Puchasing bonds with wafer-thin yields means there is no cushion for capital losses.

Even locking in current bund yields of around 0.70 per cent, an investor would make a zero annual return if yields inch up by just another 0.07 per cent. A rise in yields of 0.25 per cent would be enough to erase dollar returns of ten-year Treasuries yielding 2.23 per cent today. Read more

By Xavier Denis, Societe Generale Private Banking

The huge expansion of liquidity due to quantitative easing in advanced economies can have an adverse impact on emerging economies.

The “lowflation” environment and resulting accommodative monetary policies might initially be seen as tailwinds for global growth. But interest rates which remain too low for too long will endanger financial stability in countries which need tighter monetary policy and a curb on private sector leverage.

Currency wars have resumed. Stimulative policy settings from the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan’s reflation policies are tending to export deflation and boost competitiveness at trade partners’ expense, prompting policy reactions in the countries concerned. Read more

By Paul McNamara, GAM

Events in recent months have given rise to some of the best opportunities in emerging market (EM) currencies that we have seen for some time. Following the sharp fall in commodity prices in the fourth quarter of 2014, the currencies of a number of commodity producers struggled.

These developments appear to have triggered a broader sell-off in EM currencies, with those that should benefit from lower commodity prices, such as the Indian rupee, Turkish lira, Mexican peso and Polish zloty, weakening as well. We believe these moves provide the key opportunities for 2015. Read more

Emerging Asia is set to be the world’s fastest-growing region again in 2015, skirting the contagion from Russia’s crisis and riding the fall-out from weak commodity prices, according to Fitch, the credit rating agency. Nevertheless, structural frailties stalk seven out of 10 countries in the region, with surging debt levels a particular concern, the agency said.

The region, excluding China, is expected to expand by 5.9 per cent in 2015 and 6.1 per cent in 2016 – compared to an average for global emerging markets of 4.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively, Fitch said in a report. These forecasts compare with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) estimates that developing economies would this year grow at 4.3 per cent, accelerating to 4.7 per cent in 2016. Read more

By Siddharth Dahiya, Aberdeen Asset Management

It is fair to say that 2014 has been a turbulent year for markets. It has featured a slowdown in China, crashing commodity prices, concerns about rising interest rates, the withdrawal of quantitative easing in the US and a rate of global economic growth that shows few signs of a meaningful pick-up. And this list does not mention geopolitical issues from Russia’s annexation of Crimea to the perilous rise of Islamic State.

Not an auspicious time for emerging markets, one might think. And a quick glance at the performance of many emerging stock markets or emerging market (EM) currencies would readily confirm that. Nevertheless, emerging market corporate bonds have performed comparatively well. Read more

By Sergio Trigo Paz and Gerardo Rodriguez, BlackRock

Periodic phases of market volatility this year have brought back painful memories of emerging markets (EM) crises. Some of these crises – particularly those associated with US monetary policy tightening in 1994 and 1999 – caused significant damage to emerging economies and their asset prices.

But those difficulties brought a hidden blessing. The crises taught countries that their misfortunes were caused not so much by the actions of the US Federal Reserve as by the lack of policy buffers and financial flexibility in their home markets. This realisation has helped foster an improvement in the overall framework of EM macroeconomic policies. Read more

Beyondbrics recently warned that spiralling interest payments on hard currency bonds might yet cause EM corporates a big headache. The pain may be drawing closer: the recent slide of Asian currencies against the dollar looks even worse when you strip out the renminbi, which is holding its own, and the Japanese yen.

Source: Record Currency Management

There could be a serious knock-on effect on domestic banks if firms are forced to loot cash deposits to meet debt repayments. Read more

Hyun Song Shin, head of research at the Bank for International Settlements, has been sounding alarm bells over the debt issued by emerging market corporates since last year. His latest research, presented to the BIS AGM last month, explains how investors’ hunger for yield has put them on a hair trigger for selling should anything go wrong.

Shin’s paper shows how many more long-duration EM bonds asset managers are holding than they were in 2008. Read more

It has now been three weeks since the ECB moved, enough time at least to assess the effect on asset prices if not on the real economy. Will the bank’s actions benefit EMs, particularly those in central and eastern Europe (CEE) with strong financial links through which liquidity might be expected to flow? Will the ECB, as the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) is widely acclaimed to have done, push investors grazing in the dry savannahs of developed country asset classes out into the fecund yet mysterious forests of the emerging markets in a hunt for yield?

The initial answer seems to be: not much. Neither eurozone nor emerging eastern Europe assets have exactly been set on fire by the ECB’s action. Three weeks later, the euro – which might have been expected to weaken rapidly after a big ECB easing – has largely reversed its initial moderate falls against the dollar and also against CEE currencies (of which more later). European equities first rose and then retreated. And while equities in emerging Europe had risen by about 5 per cent by mid-June, this largely seems to reflect a cooling of the Ukraine crisis, and they too have fallen back since. Read more

By Paul McNamara of GAM

A rise in overall emerging market (EM) debt levels and an increase in US Treasury yields is causing many investors to look for a new crisis. The argument goes that developed market (DM) central banks cut rates to zero in response to the financial crisis, and capital flowed out of these economies in search for yield.

Corporate bonds issuance in EM increased, and because EM banks were in far better shape than their developed market counterparts, credit growth soared. A common concern among EM investors is the risk that when the US Federal Reserve tightens rates, capital inflows from DM to EM could reverse, causing GDP growth to collapse.

We believe that the risk of a collapse in EM growth prompted by capital outflows is much lower than is feared. EM fundamentals have adjusted substantially already: credit growth has slowed by 9 percentage points since its peak in mid-2011. Read more

By Pan Kwan Yuk and Andres Schipani

Colombia on Tuesday became the latest country to tap the market’s ferocious demand for emerging market debt after it successfully sold $2bn of 30-year bonds abroad. Read more

Global bond sales from emerging markets have defied all odds to hit a record high in 2013.

Despite the market turmoil caused this summer by concerns over the US Federal Reserve’s plans to scale back its monetary stimulus programme, EM bond issuance jumped to $506bn last year, surpassing the record $488bn in 2012, according to data from Dealogic. Read more

Last week’s foray into positive territory didn’t last long. EM dedicated bond funds saw net outflows in the week to Wednesday according to EPFR, the Boston-based fund monitor, making 18 weeks of outflows out of 19 and reversing four weeks of what looked like improving sentiment towards EM issuers.

Flows to EM equity funds went negative, too, after three weeks of inflows. Read more

Few expected September to be a record month for sovereign debt auctions. Ever since the US Federal Reserve first hinted in May at a possible “tapering” of its massive bond buying programme, emerging market countries have found borrowing much tougher and more expensive. Borrowing costs soared and issuance shrunk accordingly.

But then Fed decided to keep the printing presses whirring and EM yields settled down a bit. Not surprisingly countries took the opportunity to issue debt. The result? September ended up being the best month for EM sovereign debt issuance this year. Read more

The party is back – thanks to Ben.

Over the past two days, borrowers from Colombia to Sri Lanka have rushed to take advantage of the window of opportunity created by the US Federal Reserve’s decision to keep the QE punchbowl flowing, raising at least $5.3bn on the international bond markets. Read more

What's the yield on that?

What’s the going rate for a Kardashian? A yield of 6.25 per cent, according to Armenia’s bond issue.

The “Kardashian”, as it has been dubbed by Standard Bank’s head of emerging markets research Timothy Ash, will be issued in Armenia’s first international sovereign debt sale. Named after Kim Kardashian, a US celebrity whose family (see left) is originally from the country, the dollar bond is the latest exotic asset to have attracted investors’ gaze. Read more

Hungary shows all the signs of joining the emerging markets rush to tap bond markets before the onset of any tapering gains effect, gearing up for a US bond issue of up to $5bn, according to a shelf registration filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in New York on Tuesday. Read more

Why change a winning formula? The International Finance Corporation was successful when it launched its first naira-denominated bond earlier this year, raising $76.3m after orders came in for more than double the original $50m offering. Now it’s back for seconds. And thirds.

The private sector arm of the World Bank will launch a series of bonds totaling $1bn in a bid to create more liquid capital markets in Africa’s second biggest economy, officials told beyondbrics. Read more