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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.
Mr. Marco Arena, Mr. Rudolfs Bems, Mr. Nadeem Ilahi, Mr. Jaewoo Lee, William Lindquist, and Mr. Tonny Lybek
Several emerging market central banks in Europe deployed asset purchase programs (APPs) amid the 2020 pandemic. The common main goals were to address market dysfunction and impaired monetary transmission, distinct from the quantitative easing conducted by major advanced economy central banks. Likely reflecting the global nature of the crisis, these APPs defied the traditional emerging market concern of destabilizing the exchange rate or inflation expectations and instead alleviated markets successfully. We uncover some evidence that APPs in European emerging markets stabilized government bond markets and boosted equity prices, with no indication of exchange rate pressure. Examining global and domestic factors that could limit the usability of APPs, in the event of renewed market dysfunction we see a potential scope for scaling up APPs in most European emerging markets that used APPs during the pandemic, provided that they remain consistent with the primary objective of monetary policy and keep a safe distance from the risk of fiscal dominance. As central banks in the region move towards monetary policy tightening, the tapering, ending, and unwinding of APPs must also be carefully considered. Clear and transparent communication is critical at each step of the process, from the inception to the closure of APPs, particularly when a large shock hits and triggers a major policy shift.
Fabio Cortes and Luca Sanfilippo
Emerging economies in the post-crisis period increasingly saw portfolio debt inflows from a type of large international investment fund: Multi-Sector Bond Funds (MSBFs). These investors have lacked adequate representation in the literature. This paper constructs a new detailed database from micro-level MSBF emerging market (EM) holdings from 2009:Q4–2018:Q2. Exploiting this data, the paper assesses the risks they pose to the financial stability of specific emerging bond markets. The data shows that MSBFs are highly concentrated–both in their positions and their decision-making. The empirical results further suggest that MSBFs exhibit opportunistic behavior (and more so than other investment funds). In periods of high risk aversion, large MSBF portfolio reallocations out of EMs can be associated with underperformance of the same markets, signaling the importance of monitoring their footprint and better understanding their asset allocation decisions.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper describes and discusses potential implications of recent changes in Hungary’s public debt strategy. Special attention is paid to the motivation for, and recent experiences with, the “Hungarian Government Security Plus Scheme” (MÁP+) for physical persons, introduced in June 2019. One of the main benefits of retail bonds is that they usually are perceived as more stable funding. However, it is argued that MÁP+ should be continuously monitored to ensure its objectives are achieved in the most cost-efficient manner and to avoid unintended distortions. The paper also focuses on specific public debt management policies in Hungary and it briefly discusses experiences with the retail bond programs in other countries but focuses mainly on the MÁP+ bond, the initial experience with this bond, and elaborates on its potential implications. MÁP+ has many reasonable objectives, although some of them, such as higher a savings rate of households and reduced external indebtedness, are to a major extent driven by macroeconomic policies. Going forward, the question remains whether these objectives can be achieved by appreciably lower cost to the budget given less expensive alternative funding sources and policy options. Public debt management also needs to respond to changing market conditions.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper identifies policies to increase productivity in the East, reduce regional income disparities, and promote overall income convergence. Achieving this objective will require improving educational attainment and reducing skill mismatches in the East, scaling up public infrastructure to attract investment to less productive regions, and facilitating labor mobility. This paper also discusses female labor participation in Poland and the potential impact on bank profitability of the recently implemented bank asset tax. Poland’s population is aging, yet it has an important underused source of qualified labor—its women. For Poland to unleash its full economic potential, it needs to embrace the vital contribution that women can make to its economy.
International Monetary Fund
This paper focuses on the Stand-By Arrangement for Hungary under the Emergency Financing Mechanism. Economic indicators confirm that the downturn envisaged in the program is already under way. The new bank support law is important, as it provides Hungarian banks with access to capital enhancement and borrowing guarantee facilities. The gradual reductions in the policy interest rate have been appropriate. Looking ahead, continued implementation of policies in line with the program is essential to maintain investor confidence and minimize the depth of the economic downturn.
Ms. Li L Ong and Silvia Iorgova
Emerging European countries have made large strides in developing their local capital markets since the early-1990s. However, the rate of development has been widely disparate across countries and market segments, underpinned by the varying degrees of progress made in key areas such as establishing pricing benchmarks, adopting, implementing and enforcing securities laws and regulations, encouraging the growth of an institutional investor base, and providing adequate trading infrastructure. This paper provides an overview of the trends in the region's local capital markets, and examines the main factors that have contributed to their growth and effectiveness to date. It also discusses selected policy responses necessary to further improve the breadth and depth of these markets.
International Monetary Fund
In this paper, the following statistical data are presented in detail: GDP at current and constant prices, GDP by sectors at current and constant prices, employment by sector, average monthly wages, unemployment and vacancies, profit and losses of enterprises, number of enterprises, GDP deflator, consumer price index, producer energy prices, central government assets and financial liabilities, monetary survey and base, interest rates, balance of payments, foreign trade, commodity composition of trade, fiscal operations of state budget, fund and social security funds.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Corporate profitability is a source of uncertainty in a generally positive global market outlook, IMF International Capital Markets Department Head and Counsellor Gerd Häusler said at a June 12 press conference. Summarizing the findings (see charts, pages 194–95) of the IMF’s second Global Financial Stability Report, he noted that “the near-term outlook in mature markets is largely free of imminent threats, mainly because the world economy has recovered and has helped build support also for financial markets.” However, emerging markets in South America have come under recent pressure. This report is designed to “detect fault lines in global financial markets,” and a theme running through this issue is the uncertainty posed by the level and quality of corporate profits.