We find that countries which are able to borrow at spreads that seem low given fundamentals (for example because investors take a bullish view on a country's future), are more likely to develop economic difficulties later on. We obtain this result through a two-stage procedure, where a first regression links sovereign spreads to fundamentals, after which residuals from this regression are deployed in a second stage to assess their impact on future outcomes (real GDP growth and the occurrence of fiscal crises). We confirm the relevance of past sovereign debt mispricing in several out-of-sample exercises, where they reduce the RMSE of real GDP growth forecasts by as much as 15 percent. This provides strong support for theories of sentiment affecting the business cycle. Our findings also suggest that countries shouldn't solely rely on spread levels when determining their fiscal strategy; underlying fundamentals should inform policy as well, since historical relationships between spreads and fundamentals often continue to apply in the medium-to-long run.
Time series on economic activity in developing countries, in particular real GDP, are reported with important lags. Therefore, it is useful to construct indicators that coincide or lead the actual direction and level of economic activity. A general methodology to construct these indicators is proposed and adapted for Argentina. Three coincident indicators could be constructed, but no reliable leading indicator could be found. From an econometric standpoint, the coincident indicators produce satisfactory point estimates of real GDP. The series that enter the indicator are broadly consistent with what many economists believe is the main source of real GDP fluctuations in Argentina: shocks to the capital account of the balance of payments. This enhances the confidence in the econometric results.