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Tara Iyer
Crypto assets have emerged as an increasingly popular asset class among retail and institutional investors. Although initially considered a fringe asset class, their increased adoption across countries—in emerging markets, in particular—amid bouts of extreme price volatility has raised concerns about their potential financial stability implications. This note examines the extent to which crypto assets have moved to the mainstream by estimating the potential for spillovers between crypto and equity markets in the United States and in emerging markets using daily data on price volatility and returns. The analysis suggests that crypto and equity markets have become increasingly interconnected across economies over time. Spillovers from price volatility of the oldest and most popular crypto asset, Bitcoin, to the S&P 500 and MSCI emerging markets indices have increased by about 12-16 percentage points since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, while those from its returns have increased by about 8-10 percentage points. Spillovers from the most traded stablecoin, Tether, to these indices have also increased by about 4-6 percentage points. In absolute terms, spillovers from Bitcoin to global equity markets are significant, explaining about 14-18 percent of the variation in equity price volatility and 8-10 percent of the variation in equity returns. These findings suggest that close monitoring of crypto asset markets and the adoption of appropriate regulatory policies are warranted to mitigate potential financial stability risks.
Mr. Evan Papageorgiou and Rohit Goel
An interesting disconnect has taken shape between local currency- and hard currency-denominated bonds in emerging markets with respect to their portfolio flows and prices since the start of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging market assets have recovered sharply from the COVID-19 sell-off in 2020, but the post-pandemic recovery in 2021 has been highly uneven. This note seeks to answer why. Yields of local currency-denominated bonds have risen faster and are approaching their pandemic highs, while hard currency bond yields are still near their post-pandemic lows. Portfolio flows to local currency debt have similarly lagged flows to hard currency bonds. This disconnect is closely linked to the external environment and fiscal and inflationary pressures. Its evolution remains a key consideration for policymakers and investors, since local markets are the main source of funding for emerging markets. This note draws from the methodology developed in earlier Global Financial Stability Reports on fundamentals-based asset valuation models for funding costs and forecasting models for capital flows (using the at-risk framework). The results are consistent across models, indicating that local currency assets are significantly more sensitive to domestic fundamentals while hard currency assets are dependent on the external risk sentiment to a greater extent. This suggests that the post-pandemic, stressed domestic fundamentals have weighed on local currency bonds, partially offsetting the boost from supportive global risk sentiment. The analysis also highlights the risks emerging markets face from an asynchronous recovery and weak domestic fundamentals.
Fabio Cortes and Luca Sanfilippo
Unconstrained multi-sector bond funds (MSBFs) can be a source of spillovers to emerging markets and potentially exert a sizable impact on cross-border flows. MSBFs have grown their investment in emerging markets in recent years and are highly concentrated—both in their positions and their decision-making. They typically also exhibit opportunistic behavior much more so than other investment funds. Theoretically, their size, multisector mandate, and unconstrained nature allows MSBFs to be a source of financial stability in periods of wide-spread market turmoil while others sell at fire-sale prices. However, this note, building on the analysis of Cortes and Sanfilippo (2020) and incorporating data around the COVID-19 crisis, finds that MSBFs could have contributed to increase market stress in selected emerging markets. When faced with large investor redemptions during the crisis, our sample of MSBFs chose to rebalance their portfolios in a concentrated manner, raising a large proportion of cash in a few specific local currency bond markets. This may have contributed to exacerbating the relative underperformance of these local currency bond markets to broader emerging market indices.