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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.
Rohit Goel and Sheheryar Malik
The nominal bond yields for advanced economies rose sharply during the first quarter of the year. This note analyzes the drivers of this increase across the jurisdictions and tenors of the yield curve. A key investor focus, in particular, has been the rise in the nominal bond yields in the United States, which has had notable global financial stability spillovers. The analysis indicates that the rise in inflation expectations is the primary driver of the rise in US nominal bond yields over the near term, whereas, the rise in real yields has been the major contributor to the rise in longer-term yields. The change in term premiums has also played a key role in driving both the longer-term inflation breakeven and real yields. Considering other major advanced economies, while inflation expectations have risen across the board in the near term, change in real yields appear more pertinent a driver for shifts in longer-term yields.
Tao Sun
This note analyzes the economic impact of digital lending to micro and small sized enterprises (MSEs) in China during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. A preliminary analysis of a large pool of MSEs served by a digital bank indicates that digital banks were able to remotely evaluate borrowers and sustain lending during the pandemic, thereby facilitating the business continuity, sales growth, and financial inclusiveness of MSEs. In the global context, a policy framework—leveraging the advantages of digital banks and empowering digital banks, while guarding against possible financial stability risks—would further support small businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Salih Fendoglu
This note analyzes the implications of changes in commercial real estate (CRE) prices for the stability of the US banking sector. Using detailed bank-level and CRE price data for US metropolitan statistical areas, the analysis shows that, following a decline in CRE prices, banks with greater exposures to CRE loans perform worse than their counterparts, experiencing higher non-performing CRE loans, lower revenues, and lower capital. These effects are particularly pronounced if the drop in CRE prices turns out to be persistent because of possible structural shifts in CRE demand—for example, because of an increased trend toward e-commerce and teleworking—even after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is over. The impact of a decline in CRE prices is especially true for small and community banks, which tend to have the highest CRE loan exposures. While the US banking sector has remained resilient during the pandemic crisis due to strong capital buffers and massive policy support, these findings suggest that continued vigilance is warranted with regard to potential downside risks to CRE prices amidst ongoing structural shifts in the sector.