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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Spain’s recovery has gathered speed, but unemployment remains very high. Growth has picked up and is expected at 3.1 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016, well above the euro area average. Strong policy implementation has supported the return of confidence, and significant external tailwinds are helping the rebound. However, deep structural problems limit Spain’s growth potential going forward, and vulnerabilities remain. The high structural unemployment and pervasive labor market duality, and the lack of economies of scale of Spain’s many small firms hold back medium-term growth. Public and private debt levels are still high and are likely to keep weighing on consumption and investment.
Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
We analyze determinants of sovereign bond yields in 22 advanced economies over the 1980-2010 period using panel cointegration techniques. The application of cointegration methodology allows distinguishing between long-run (debt-to-GDP ratio, potential growth) and short-run (inflation, short-term interest rates, etc.) determinants of sovereign borrowing costs. We find that in the long-run, government bond yields increase by about 2 basis points in response to a 1 percentage point increase in government debt-to-GDP ratio and by about 45 basis points in response to a 1 percentage point increase in potential growth rate. In the short-run, sovereign bond yields deviate from the level determined by the long-run fundamentals, but about half of the deviation adjusts in one year. When considering the impact of the global financial crisis on sovereign borrowing costs in euro area countries, the estimations suggest that spreads against Germany in some European periphery countries exceeded the level determined by fundamentals in the aftermath of the crisis, while some North European countries have benefited from “safe haven” flows.
Jean François Clevy, Mr. Guilherme Pedras, and Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz
The pandemic has urged countries around the globe to mobilize financing to support the recovery. This is even more relevant in Central America, where the policy response to cushion the pandemic’s economic and social impact has accentuated pre-existing debt vulnerabilities. This paper documents the potential for local currency bond markets to diversify and expand financing for the recovery, lowering bond yields, funding volatility, and exposure to global shocks. The paper further identifies priority actions, both national and regional, to support market development.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
South Africa has made considerable economic and social strides since 1994, but faces significant challenges. Deep-rooted structural problems—infrastructure bottlenecks, skill mismatches, and harmful insider-outsider dynamics—have kept unemployment and inequality unacceptably high. Also, a confluence of external and domestic shocks, combined with heightened governance concerns and policy uncertainty, have weighed on confidence and growth. Though private balance sheets are still strong, vulnerabilities are elevated. 2016 growth is projected at 0.1 percent. Only a muted recovery is envisaged from 2017, with rising unemployment. Downside risks dominate and stem mainly from China, heightened global financial volatility, and domestic politics and possible policy missteps. Shocks could be amplified by extensive macro-financial linkages, especially if combined with sovereign credit rating downgrades to speculative grade. On the upside, the recent dialogue between social partners could catalyze reform implementation and invigorate growth.
Carlos Góes, Herman Kamil, Phil De Imus, Ms. Mercedes Garcia-Escribano, Mr. Roberto Perrelli, Mr. Shaun K. Roache, and Jeremy Zook
This paper examines the transmission of changes in the U.S. monetary policy to localcurrency sovereign bond yields of Brazil and Mexico. Using vector error-correction models, we find that the U.S. 10-year bond yield was a key driver of long-term yields in these countries, and that Brazilian yields were more sensitive to U.S. shocks than Mexican yields during 2010–13. Remarkably, the propagation of shocks from U.S. long-term yields was amplified by changes in the policy rate in Brazil, but not in Mexico. Our counterfactual analysis suggests that yields in both countries temporarily overshot the values predicted by the model in the aftermath of the Fed’s “tapering” announcement in May 2013. This study suggests that emerging markets will need to contend with potential spillovers from shifts in monetary policy expectations in the U.S., which often lead to higher government bond interest rates and bouts of volatility.
Laura Jaramillo
While fiscal conditions remain healthier than in advanced economies, emerging economies continue to be exposed to negative spillovers if global conditions were to become less favorable. This paper finds that domestic bond yields in emerging economies are heavily influenced by two international factors: global risk appetite and global liquidity. Using a novel approach, the analysis goes on to show that the vulnerability of emerging economies to these factors is not uniform but rather depends on country specific characteristics, namely fiscal fundamentals, financial sector openness and the external current account balance.
Mr. Heiko Hesse and Mr. Ken Miyajima

Globally, financial institutions have increased their holdings of domestic sovereign debt, tightening the linkage between the health of the financial system and the level of sovereign debt, or the “financial sector-sovereign nexus,” during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In South Africa, the nexus is still relatively moderate, albeit rising, and the increased focus of the Prudential Authority on the associated risks provide reassurance. Options to mitigate such risks through the use of regulatory measures can be explored. However, absent the necessary fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, risks from the nexus to both the financial system and the sovereign will increase.

Mr. Serkan Arslanalp and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan

Asset allocation decisions of international investors are at the core of capital flows. This paper explores the impact of these decisions on long-term government bond yields, using a quarterly investor base dataset for 22 advanced economies over 2004-2012. We find that a one percentage point increase in the share of government debt held by foreign investors can explain a 6-10 basis point reduction in long-term sovereign bond yields over the sample period. Accordingly, international flows to core advanced economy bond markets over 2008-12 are estimated to have reduced 10-year government bond yields by 40-65 basis points in Germany, 20-30 basis points in the U.K., and 35-60 basis points in the U.S. In contrast, foreign outflows are estimated to have raised 10-year government bond yields by 40-70 basis points in Italy and 110-180 basis points in Spain during the same period. Our results suggest that the divergence in long-term bond yields between core and periphery economies in the euro area may continue unless the “normalization” of macroeconomic determinants of bond yields is accompanied by a similar “normalization” of the foreign investor base.

Mr. Serkan Arslanalp and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
Ms. Filiz D Unsal and Carlos Caceres
This paper explores how much of the movements in the sovereign spreads of Asian economies over the course of the global financial crisis has reflected shifts in (i) global risk aversion; (ii) country-specific risks, directly from worsening fundamentals, and indirectly from spillovers originating in other sovereigns and the uncertainty surrounding exchange rates. Earlier in the crisis, the increase in market-implied contagion led to higher Asian sovereign bond yield spreads over swaps. But, after the crisis, Asia’s sovereign spreads normalized, despite the debt crisis in the euro area, reflecting a fall in both exchange rate and spillover risks.