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Mr. Adolfo Barajas, Woon Gyu Choi, Ken Zhi Gan, Pierre Guérin, Samuel Mann, Manchun Wang, and Yizhi Xu
After a steady increase following the global financial crisis, private nonfinancial sector leverage rose further during the COVID-19 on the back of easy financial conditions induced by unprecedented policy support. We investigate the empirical relationships between increased leverage, financial conditions, and macro-financial stability in a sample of major advanced and emerging market economies. We find that loose financial conditions contribute to leverage buildups and generate an intertemporal tradeoff: financial stability risk is lessened in the near term but exacerbated in the medium term. The tradeoff is amplified during credit booms, when debt service burdens are particularly high, or when the share of foreign currency debt is high in emerging markets. Selected macroprudential tools can arrest leverage buildups and mitigate the tradeoff.
John Caramichael, Ms. Gita Gopinath, and Gordon Y. Liao
We isolate a U.S. dollar currency premium by comparing corporate bonds issued in the dollar and the euro by firms o utside t he U .S. a nd e uro a rea. We make s everal empirical observations that dissect the perceived advantage of borrowing in the dollar. First, while the dollar dominates global debt issuance, borrowing costs in the dollar are more expensive without a currency hedge and about the same with a currency hedge when compared to the euro. This observed parity in currency-hedged corporate borrowing stands in contrast to the persistent deviation from covered interest parity in risk-free rates. Second, we observe a dollar safety premium in relative hedged borrowing costs, found in the subset of bonds with high credit ratings and short maturities, attributes similar to those of safe sovereigns. Finally, we find that firms flexibly adjust the currency mix of their debt issuance depending on the relative borrowing cost between dollar and euro debt. In sum, the disproportionate demand for U.S. dollar debt is reflected in higher issuance volumes that drive up the currency hedged dollar borrowing costs such that at the margin they equate to euro borrowing costs.
Dyna Heng, Serey Chea, and Bomakara Heng
Interest rate caps, despite their intended objective of broadening financial inclusion, can have undesirable effects on financial inclusion under certain conditions. This paper examines the effect of microfinance-loan interest rate caps on financial inclusion in Cambodia. Based on a difference-in-difference analysis on bank and microfinance supervisory data, results show some unintended impact on financial inclusion. The cap led to a significant increase in non-interest fees charged on new loans following the introduction of an annual cap. Microfinance borrowers declined immediately, amid an increase in credit growth, as microfinance institutions targeted larger borrowers at the expense of smaller ones. Microfinance institutions, responded differently to the cap, considering their own operation and funding costs, and client base. Two years after the cap, institutions resumed lending to a wider group of borrowers with lower funding and operation costs brought by mobile payment development.
Mr. Francisco Roch and Francisco Roldán
We analyze how concerns for model misspecification on the part of international lenders affect the desirability of issuing state-contingent debt instruments in a standard sovereign default model à la Eaton and Gersovitz (1981). We show that for the commonly used threshold state-contingent bond structure (e.g., the GDP-linked bond issued by Argentina in 2005), the model with robustness generates ambiguity premia in bond spreads that can explain most of what the literature has labeled as novelty premium. While the government would be better off with this bond when facing rational expectations lenders, this additional source of premia leads to welfare losses when facing robust lenders. Finally, we characterize the optimal design of the state-contingent bond and show how it varies with the level of robustness. Our findings rationalize the little use of these instruments in practice and shed light on their optimal design.