The IMF’s Regional Reinforcement Rehash

2017 August 16 by

Ahead of the next annual meetings the IMF’s Policy Review Department has published background papers on potential elements of an expanded global financial safety net leveraging Fund resources, a priority identified under the Managing Director’s work program and endorsed by major county shareholders. They have agreed in principle on an increased backstop beyond the existing prequalified contingency credit and new coordination approaches, with existing regional mechanisms profiled in a case studies document of a half-dozen recent crisis flare-ups. It looks at emerging economy constructs in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America and through the BRICS, with a particular focus on information sharing, surveillance capacity, and loan instruments to examine likely Fund facility fits. The analysis separately sketches out a quantitative contagion model that could serve as a future collaboration basis and sequence emergency partnerships according to the formula. The Arab Monetary Fund, founded 40 years ago, has $5 billion in capital and twenty members and was designed to correct balance of payments problems, including sudden oil import difficulties. It offers trade reform, broader structural adjustment and short-term liquidity assistance, and recent operations involved Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania and Sudan. The BRICS’ $100 billion contingent reserve was launched in 2014 with China’s contribution highest at $40 billion. It has not been tapped yet, but rules call for one-third access to currency lines with member agreement, and the remaining available with a formal IMF arrangement. The Chiang Mai Initiative among the Asean+3, a bilateral and multilateral swap regime, has been in place since 2000 with $250 billion on hand. It too offers 30 percent immediately and the rest tied to a Fund program, and has conducted “test runs” while never formally tapped. Members did help Indonesia with backup support during the 2008 crash in de facto application, although the episode passed in short order.

The Eurasian Fund was set up a decade ago by Russia and five CIS neighbors with the biggest Kazakhstan. It can provide $8.5 billion including grants for social purposes, and extended balance of payments aid to Belarus and Tajikistan and infrastructure credit to Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic. Non-euro EU states have an EUR 50 billion kitty from 2002 predating the 2015 Stabilization Mechanism for the sovereign debt crisis, which was drawn on by Hungary, Latvia and Romania. The ESM’s current size is around EUR 700 billion and has been deployed on multiple occasions in Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece. Its writ goes beyond traditional external reserves protection in view of the single currency to encompass secondary bond buying and bank recapitalization with central bank consultation. Latin America has its own four decade-old Reserve pool among seven economies with maximum capacity below $5 billion. Ecuador and Venezuela received $500 million range loans and central banks in Colombia and Peru got technical help. Europe the past decade provided all the case evaluations, and they show differences over conditionality, responsibility, burden-sharing and timeliness. Joint reviews were often uncoordinated to undermine confidence and momentum, and out of six experiences listed only Hungary was a clear success in terms of effective collaboration which required the parties to defer to respective “comparative advantages” in know-how and judgment as important as money at stake in future anti-crisis recipes, the authors imply.


The World Bank’s Economic Prospect Pratfalls

2017 June 10 by

The World Bank’s June Global Economic Prospects analysis predicted 4 percent emerging market growth this year after 2016’s 3.5 percent “stagnation,” on broad commodity export and domestic demand rebound, but warned of longer-term structural productivity and trade drags for an overall “soft” recovery. Fiscal sustainability is often an issue, while currencies have strengthened with inflation in retreat. Household balance sheets are stretched in big natural resource countries like Brazil, Russia and Kazakhstan, and energy lags metal and farm sales performance. Sub-Sahara Africa has floundered with 2.5 percent growth forecast on additional political, security and weather challenges. In Francophone West Africa infrastructure has been the main driver, and Senegal re-tapped the Eurobond market in May. Current account deficits remain high in Rwanda and Uganda as they also struggle with refugee inflows. Exchange rates have collapsed in the Democratic Republic of Congo as President Kabila clings to power despite promised elections, and in Mozambique with external debt default following an inflation spike above 20 percent in the first quarter. While China and India slow other major developing economies including Mexico and Turkey will pick up the slack, but “headwinds” linger against further momentum ranging from lack of value chain integration to governance and institutional weakness. By region Europe-Central Asia and MENA will grow 2 percent, and Latin America/Caribbean just 1 percent this year, with the latter dampened by US policy fallout from the new administration’s pledged import and immigration curbs. Budget stimulus in industrial nations should be a net benefit, but “downside” protectionist and geopolitical risks will outweigh it, according to the Bank. The Middle East is at the perennial center of conflict worries, but North Korea is now in the mix and food and water scarcity cut across wide swathes of Africa. Tighter and more volatile global finance could loom with monetary policy changes not just in the North America, Europe and Japan but in China as well with the current deleveraging push with shadow banking’s squeeze. Dollar appreciation could aggravate corporate foreign currency borrowing as domestic credit backstops are not as readily available, according to the IIF’s latest lending condition survey with the still below 50 index. Oil prices could again slide with shale gas competition and non-observance of OPEC pacts. The earlier output boom from capital accumulation has not been followed by innovation and technology strides, and demographic pressures have also started to limit potential, the review cautions.

China is singled out for reform urgency with progress in state enterprise, tax, local government debt, and securities market consolidation amid lingering corporate and financial vulnerabilities. Private sector discipline and hard borrowing constraints could go further, and land and urban migration shifts can boost efficiency and employment. Emerging economies generally need increased banking system capital and liquidity, and public debt maturities should be extended and sovereign stabilization funds replenished. Labor and education overhaul and higher fixed capital formation with better property rights should be priorities and bilateral and regional commercial deepening in the absence of global agreements, such as the EU’s recent partnerships with CIS and Central American counterparts may be the future model. These accords can slash poverty but require supporting competition and capital market rules for more favorable prospects, the Bank insists.




The IMF’s Emergency Line Backup

2017 April 3 by

The Center for Global Development in Washington in a working paper called for expansion of the IMF’s two contingency facilities created in the 2008 crisis aftermath with current “volatile” emerging market conditions, as the US Treasury starts to fill its senior ranks amid a budget blueprint slashing multilateral development institution contributions, including all the Department’s own technical assistance to foreign counterparts. The separate Flexible (FCL) and Precautionary Liquidity (PLL) pools were designed for pre-qualification and lighter monitoring than traditional programs. Only a handful of countries—Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Macedonia and Morocco– have applied, with most renewing, as the instruments are bypassed in favor of reserve self-insurance, and regional and bilateral currency swap alternatives. The analysis points out widespread eligibility at reasonable cost, but acknowledges possible residual stigma following immediate creditworthiness gain. Mexico’s $90 billion is the largest, with the others combined less than $25 billion. Its term runs for two years with “strong” polices under the more stringent FCL, with the PLL demanding “sound” economic fundamentals.  Exclusionary factors include inability to access global capital markets, high public debt and bank insolvency, and poor data quality and transparency. Based on a series of institutional and macro-performance indicators thirty more countries could be added to the list, according to the Center. Fund resources could easily manage this demand under an assumed quota with $250 billion to be extended, out of $850 billion in total credit capacity. Other crisis buffers available through the ASEAN+3, BRICS, Latin American Reserve Fund, and European Stability Mechanism have more onerous guidelines and similar expense, with the first two requiring a formal IMF agreement in advance. Central bank swap commitments such as the Federal Reserve’s $30 billion to Brazil, Mexico, Korea and Singapore in 2008 soon expired, and they were the only approved recipients. Indonesia tapped the World Bank’s Deferred Drawdown Option instead under tougher terms, and private liquidity provision as organized in Latin America in the late 1990s has not been repeated since and lacks durability. Reserve accumulation continues to entail costs equal to 1 percent of GDP, and a better overall deal cannot be found than the FCL or PLL, the document argues.

A 2013 fifty-member IMF survey cited perceived negative image as the main obstacle, but it may be associated with the organization’s austerity reputation generally rather than the specific products. The financial market implications would seem to neutralize this concern, with Colombia seeing a 10 basis point sovereign bond yield reduction upon its move, while Morocco’s CDS fell by similar magnitude. With global reserves tapering with commodity export slowdown and capital outflows, the timing is right for wider participation which can contribute to global monetary safety, the paper concludes. Mexico has been in the cross-hairs in particular for stress response as the US formally signaled NAFTA renegotiation and preliminary immigration border wall construction in the coming months. Foreign investors have cut short-term Treasury ownership to 30 percent, and the central bank unveiled a new discretionary $20 billion foreign exchange hedging backstop to defend the peso. However growth will be less than 2 percent this year as inflation heads toward 5 percent on currency depreciation which may revive the relative value of IMF spurned innovations.


Doing Business’ Plodding Placement Proliferation

2016 November 2 by

The World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business reference again added new components to its dozen ground level regulatory, credit and infrastructure themes, with a focus on post-tax filing and gender treatment as it also compiled original public procurement data. Women’s startup, enforcement and registration difficulties resulted in reduced private sector employment, and better country performance particularly on insolvency translates into lower income inequality. The 185 economies covered have enacted 3000 changes the past dozen years since publication launch, and Europe-Central Asia has been the top regional reformers, with Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the 30 ranking leaders overall dominated by wealthy OECD members. The past year had 275 improvements, mainly in launch processes, and Brunei, Kenya, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Indonesia showed the most progress. Major cities within countries have started to compete for superiority, as with Mumbai and Delhi in India, where the Modi government’s “fast pace” was lauded. The capital’s utility has streamlined power connection and automated tax payment, and new bankruptcy and court procedures were introduced. African officials often form dedicated units to raise marks, and Rwanda has stood out with a wide-ranging menu to help achieve low-middle-income status by end-decade. Efforts have gone cross-regional as with APEC’s medium-term action plan for Asian and Latin American signatories. In Mexico and Colombia subnational benchmarking is routine for dozens of provinces and states. Georgia was again a major gainer with customs breakthroughs, and Bahrain and the UAE have advanced on credit information and construction permits even as the Gulf has traditionally lagged on these issues. Secured transaction laws and collateral registries are increasingly common and credit reporting has extended beyond banks to wider commercial use within privacy limits. Twenty countries strengthened minority shareholder rights, and Morocco and Vietnam expanded transparency criteria while Sri Lanka barred conflict of interest and insider dealing. In Africa 17 French-speaking states adopted the OHADA liquidation framework, and Thailand adapted its reorganization code to meet small and midsize company needs.

Frontier markets with banking cleanup challenges, such as Tunisia which renewed its IMF program with a 4-year $3 billion facility. The financial-heavy stock exchange was flat on the MSCI Index through October despite recapitalization of two large public banks and new legislation. Private credit has sputtered with the NPL ratio above 15 percent, forcing borrowers to rely on direct central bank lines. Capital adequacy is reported at 12 percent, but tourism which accounts for one-quarter of problem portfolios, remains subdued on meager 1-2 percent GDP growth. Small companies have scant access despite the recent removal of interest rate caps and consolidation of hundreds of microfinance providers into several dozen. Security and social spending to address overlapping terror, refugee and unemployment threats have undercut efforts to restrain debt/GDP at 50 percent, but fiscal strategy contemplates civil service and fuel subsidy cutbacks. The current account deficit at 8 percent must also be reined in under the Fund arrangement, with reserve coverage now four months’ imports with bilateral and multilateral infusions. The central bank has refrained from intervention as capital account restrictions are gradually relaxed in preparation for a big end-November investment conference previously postponed with political shakeups and headline violence. Municipal elections approach in early 2017, after another Jasmine revolution anniversary with financial sector flowering signs still remote.




Development Finance Institutions’ Muddled Model

2016 October 20 by

As OPIC in the US and other long-established bilateral development finance specialists look to revamp their missions in the face of new global competitors and issue-business challenges, a comprehensive study by Washington and London think tanks traces the broad history and recommends future activity and policy concentration. Their combined commitments were $70 billion as of 2014, half of total overseas direct aid, and they focus on investment support in low and middle-income economies rather than broad anti-poverty and sustainability goals. Tools encompass a range of loan guarantees, equity and insurance and outside fund manager engagement. Blended instruments with pure private sector funding are increasingly popular, and may be well-suited for big regional, energy and environmental projects, according to the authors. However executives in charge tend to focus on technical deal-making instead of larger issues and themes often inviting disconnect with traditional assistance agencies. The 2015 Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa emphasized the importance of FDI risk reduction mechanisms, especially for marginalized fragile states. Local capital markets where they exist are often shallow and spurn small and midsize firm needs. In 2015 European DFIs had a total portfolio of $35 billion, and both OPIC and the World Bank’s IFC arm each mobilized $20 billion. China’s policy banks had outstanding credit of $685 billion, and Brazil’s state development lender’s was $275 billion. The new BRICS bank will extend and consolidate these efforts, along with the infrastructure focused AIIB based in Beijing with extra-regional shareholders. Europe’s providers have quantified their impact by citing creation of 4 million jobs and $10 billion in local tax revenue and participation must always meet the “additionality” test, namely that transactions would not occur otherwise. Financial services, power and transport are among priority sectors, and Sub-Sahara Africa is a chief target region. The institutions are often called upon to spur innovations such as in women-run enterprises and to carry out urgent crisis relief such as in battling the Ebola virus or funding post-Arab Spring economic transition. Evidence suggests that this investment can be counter-cyclical, but poverty and environmental results are rarely measured explicitly even as these operations are responsible for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The paper concludes that “core competencies” should continue, but advises a shift from micro to macro themes and greater transparency in approval and evaluation processes. Risk tolerance should rise along with endowed capital as many DFIs remain small, and failure lessons must be more widely shared for academic and practical purposes. Africa attention will expand in the near-term with commodity exporter strain as debt-GDP ratios in many countries exceed 40 percent. Nigeria, where oil contributes three-quarters of fiscal revenue, has reached out to these sources after naira devaluation for commercial backing without resort to a companion IMF adjustment program,, while Zambia post-election will tap both after tightening fiscal and monetary stances. Its new budget will present figures on an accrual basis as GDP growth should come in this year at 3 percent, and banks grapple with higher bad loan loads which could be mitigated by outside forms of copper-bottomed protection.


Addis Ababa’s Development Declaration Decathlon

2015 August 12 by

The third UN Financing for Development forum in Ethiopia’s capital produced a 40-page “outcome document” for consideration in the September General Assembly covering private capital themes, as the dense prose masked a more accepting but still skeptical tone 15 years after the “multi-stakeholder consultative process” was launched. Official aid and redefinition of the original Millennium anti-poverty goals with a 2015 deadline remained a core focus, and the environment was also in the spotlight in the run-up to the Paris carbon emission treaty conference at year-end. It calculated a $1 trillion developing country infrastructure funding gap and called for a global forum to coordinate public sector and commercial efforts which would include new players like China’s AIIB and the African Development Bank’s “50” fund. Domestic tax mobilization was a major thrust with an appeal for information-sharing between revenue authorities, including in offshore centers, and crackdowns on money laundering and illicit outflows. On financial regulation the participants urged risk-based approaches across the spectrum from microcredit to international banking, and steps toward universal customer access and literacy. They noted remittance charges remain steep and should fall to no more than 5 percent by 2030.

On domestic capital markets long-term bonds and insurance are lacking and the declaration committed to stronger supervision and clearing and settlement. Regional markets are an option to obtain scale, and at the opposite extreme poorer countries have yet to establish securities activity. Foreign portfolio investors have taken large shares in local debt markets over the past decade, and cross-border cooperation can help manage volatility. Pension and sovereign wealth funds in both advanced and emerging economies can increase infrastructure investment so that the clean energy annual $100 billion tab by 2020 is met. Trade finance is often unavailable and the WTO and its members should expand guarantee, factoring and small business programs.

Debt sustainability remains an issue as the last candidates for HIPC relief are approved by bilateral and multilateral lenders. A central registry on sovereign restructurings is overdue and the UNCTAD principles on responsible treatment have not been widely honored. The Paris Club has launched a dialogue with private creditors, and the IMF and UN are both exploring new burden-sharing formulas, but the signatories are “concerned” over bond holdouts. The pari passu and collective auction clause changes recently adopted in prospectus language are helpful but developing country borrowers may require facilities for international legal assistance to redress the capacity and resource imbalances in negotiations. Special provisions should also be triggered in the event of natural disasters, including disease outbreaks as in West Africa, and distress could be worked out in debt for health swaps and similar mechanisms that were popular in previous crises.

IMF governance reform remains a priority despite the refusal of the US Congress to pass 2010 quota reallocation proposals, and emerging market “voice” is also under-represented at the Basel Committee and as counterpoint to the main global rating agencies. The standard-setters should focus attention on ways to hedge and avoid economic damage associated with commodity price swings. Shadow banking may pose systemic risks in an unmonitored chain of credit and securities transactions, and upcoming UN sessions should try to illuminate data and knowledge gaps, the Addis Ababa roundup adds.


The IMF’s Sustainable Solutions Snub

2015 February 13 by

The IMF put the US Congress on notice that the 2010 quota reform agreed by all other members may be renegotiated by mid-year with continued lack of ratification, potentially endangering Washington’s 15 percent plus controlling share. The move followed a fiery speech by Managing Director Lagarde urging overdue “political action” on this issue and climate change and income inequality challenges. The original deal would keep the US allotment at 17 percent and advance China, Brazil and India several places mainly at the expense of Europe relinquishing 3 percent. After passage of the previous end-2014 deadline country representatives have begun to explore alternatives to change voting power and double the Fund’s firepower which could involve another G-20 summit or interim Treasury Department endorsement pending later legislative approval. The delicate diplomacy comes amid the task of expanding and possibly doubling last year’s $15 billion plus rescue package for Ukraine, with a mission and Treasury Secretary Lew just visiting Kiev. This version will be the first test of guidelines circulated last year, incorporating lesson from Greece, on exceptional access and “reprofiling” private debt through automatic maturity extension or stipulating outright reduction if the burden is no longer sustainable. The new Finance Minister, a US-trained investment banker, introduced the restructuring option at the World Economic Forum in Davos and appointed Lazard as an adviser. The sovereign rating had been sliced to CCC- in December with both near-term bonds and CDS trading in deep distress with double-digit spreads. Optimistic scenarios calculate the recovery value at 60 cents/dollar, with Franklin Templeton the biggest international holder loser alongside Pimco and BlackRock. Local bond issuance has continued with $2 billion equivalent placed in January for gas payment, as official figures will soon establish public debt/GDP over 60 percent entitling Russia to call in its 2013 $3 billion buy triggering other Eurobond cross-default clauses. Reserves are down to $7.5 billion by the last tally and industrial output fell 10 percent in 2014. Corporate borrowers have already defaulted and several banks have been liquidated amid large-scale system recapitalization needs, with Russia’s VTB already moving to support its local unit. The EBRD predicts financial collapse in months without tangible actions in banking, energy, investment and anti-corruption despite the new government’s enactment of legal and policy changes on paper.

The Fund’s updated approach recognizes that re-profiling would be defined as a credit event by ISDA and trigger swap payouts as the sovereign rating temporarily enters “selective default.” The later swap could end that designation and enable eventual market return but will depend on creditor acceptance of the staff debt sustainability analysis. Fund operations in Cyprus and Jamaica in 2013 involved maturity extensions, and the framework would first establish commercial exclusion by assessing a series of bond primary and secondary, ownership, duration and rollover indicators. Contagion cases could entail special circumstances but this finding could engender panic if asset managers are not consulted and believe in the stakes as well as the unserviceable stock, the document asserts.


IMF Quota Legislation’s Private Sector Breakout

2014 December 4 by

Four years after initial agreement at a G-20 summit and a year after another IMF quota review was due, the Obama Administration and Congress have yet to pass a bill enshrining minor funding and voting changes as the US, the original architect still with an over 15 percent controlling share, stands alone in refusal. The technical provisions are obscure, but basically enshrine an earlier post-2008 enlargement of Fund capacity to $950 billion and an incremental 5 percent power, and pledge transfer to big emerging economies mainly at the expense of European countries with their separate pre-EU representation. The package was delayed in Capitol Hill submission and House Republicans in particular, whose majority will be reinforced in the next Congress along with Senate takeover, have complained of lack of outreach and rationale and added reservations about lending policies in Europe and elsewhere to the bill’s specifics. The Treasury Department has been the lead agency actor and White House lobbyists have joined the effort, while outside advocacy crested earlier this year on an attempt to insert the clause in emergency Ukraine appropriations with a letter-writing campaign organized by the Bretton Wood Committee. It brought hundreds of signatures from former officials and interested professionals, along with a plea on behalf of former Cabinet heavyweights dating back decades, but the private banking and capital market community was not mobilized distinctly through its national trade associations or local presence in swing congressional districts. These financial sector practitioners have already staked future business and security on developing and frontier economies, and could aid adoption of the US-instigated Fund reforms by placing them in context and acting to monitor progress and broader issues at lawmaker request. Their dedicated participation could help clarify esoteric details and serve as a supplemental policy check for Washington-backed international lender direction.

The 2010 Seoul deal doubled quotas and increased emerging market control to over 40 percent in the immediate aftermath of post-crisis expansion, when representatives were already ascending to senior management ranks and the countries had offered Fund provisional credit lines as global worry centered on the US and Europe. Most directors will now be elected instead of appointed, and the Europeans have relinquished board seats. The proposal drew on previous appropriations and requested no new money, but the Congressional Budget Office assigned a $5 billion and later a $300 million contingent cost without elaboration to meet federal guidelines. Even that modest amount may be overstated since the US’s liquid claim has never been in default and the Fund has over $100 billion in precautionary balances and gold reserves. The higher contributions would enable access to a multiple of the sum as in Ukraine’s recent case promoted by President Obama. More controversially Greece before then obtained exceptional limits angering Washington and developing country shareholders alike, and the waiver has since been revisited with private sector debt reduction a key issue in both instances.  As big demands continue from other regions including the Middle East and Africa, BRICS members awaiting action are pursuing their own alternatives for mutual support with the launch this year both of a joint development bank and currency reserve as well as China’s pan-Asia infrastructure lender. Along with the Bretton Woods Committee which was founded to back the international financial institutions on the Hill, the expertise and views of members from the Institute for International Finance, Emerging Market Traders Association, Bankers Association for Foreign Trade, US Chamber of Commerce and similar bodies could assist in improving the reform climate from the basic 2010 commitment through the subsequent range of priority Fund considerations and operations in a next session bid with analysis and events to refresh the stale quota debate.


Financial Sector Assessments’ Disputed Formula

2014 October 8 by

The IMF and World Bank prior to the annual meetings offered a third review of the 15-year old joint financial sector assessment program which noted strengthening since it was incorporated into Article IV surveillance in 2010 but also wide scope for improvement in gauging cross-border and bank-nonbank risks. Since the 2008 crisis three areas have been highlighted: overall vulnerability, stability policy and prudential supervision in practice and safety nets through the prism of balance sheet stress testing and international codes observance. A formal screening framework was introduced and 90 percent of country participants were satisfied with general coverage. Contingency scenarios always apply to banking but have expanded to insurance and solvency, liquidity and contagion are measured. Techniques were refined in a staff manual but underlying data are not always available or reliable for full exercises, especially outside the 30 designated “systemic” members, the Fund reports. Important operational and fraud threats are not considered and outward channels are rarely addressed alongside foreign credit and capital inflows. Targeted macro-prudential controls are new tools and are harder to benchmark than the traditional BIS banking, IOSCO securities and IAIS insurance principles. The Financial Stability Board enshrined by the G-20 in the wake of the crash has launched its own voluntary testing aimed at sixty countries, which tends to overlap and “fatigue” local counterparts. As an alternative under the FSAP process they can choose individual stability and development modules in view of priorities and mutual resource constraints. A Bank-Fund Liaison Committee of senior executives coordinates the content and effort including complementary technical assistance. One-third of recommendations are completely followed and 90 percent are published, with emerging and low-income economies often demurring. A rough regression indicates findings can affect markets especially bank valuations, but diminishing downloads over time suggest brief “shelf life.” They are mainly bilateral but regional reviews were conducted for the EU, Central and West Africa CFA Franc zones, and the East Caribbean Currency Union. The recent annual average output has been 15 FSAPs, with the individual cost at $1 million. For the most advanced global centers expenses are double, while they are half for non-systemic developing nations. This fiscal year work was presented for Kazakhstan, Jamaica, Lebanon and the East African Community, but poor economies typically lack current and integrated analysis and troubleshooting, and occasional technical missions cannot substitute the Fund laments. Along with adding more flexibility to the core product cost limits and sharing could free resources from the major country undertakings for potential redeployment, it proposes.

Separately the Asia Bond Market Initiative likewise marking 15 years outlined its latest quarter progress and statistics until end-June. Local currency instruments outstanding were up slightly to $8 trillion, with $5 trillion from China as Vietnam grew the fastest. The ten markets’ size is 60 percent of GDP, and the government-corporate split is 60-40. Maturities have concentrated at the 1-3 year shorter end as thus far solid foreign holdings may soon transform with liquidity change, according to the Asian Development Bank.


The World Bank’s Speed Bump Signal

2014 June 26 by

The World Bank’s half-year Global Economic Prospects update described a “bumpy start” which will keep global growth under 3 percent as developing countries register below 5 percent expansion for 2014 for the third time in a row annually. The latter’s flat performance should be succeeded with medium term 5.5 percent results more in line with potential as high-income import demand offsets tighter monetary conditions. Supply-side bottlenecks hurt most emerging market regions and East Asia’s average growth will level to 7 percent by 2016 as Sub-Sahara Africa’s settles at 5 percent. Latin America and Europe output will climb only 2 percent this year as the former is often operating at full capacity and Russia-Ukraine trade and investment battles stymie that continent. South Asia and MENA in contrast should show surges as India realizes infrastructure reforms and Iran and Iraq export oil and Egypt and Jordan overcome conflict. Short-term risks are “less pressing “ according to the publication as depreciations and interest rate hikes in key vulnerable economies have tackled current account deficits and rapid credit extension, although inflation and payments imbalances remain high in places like Brazil and Turkey. It posits that Ukraine escalation could deliver business and consumer confidence blows amounting to 1 percent of developing world GDP.  As monetary policy normalizes through mid-decade fiscal deterioration may also warrant attention as post-crisis debt levels are up 10 percent in half the emerging market universe. Non-performing loans are a main risk in Europe and Central and South Asia as domestic and foreign debt servicing costs rise. Adjustments to boost competitiveness and productivity must again assume priority after the “firefighting and demand management” phase of recovery. China, Mexico, the Philippines and Colombia are among a group with “ambitious agendas” and China’s transformation is especially crucial with its influence on Asia and commodity exports. Developing country industrial production up 3.5 percent in Q1 was just half the past decade’s pace with the Chinese slump most notable but Indonesia, South Africa, Peru and others also affected. PMIs have since strengthened but the trend toward “cyclical deceleration” persists, the Bank believes. Capital flows have rebounded with modest exchange rate damage since last May compared to previous episodes, as benchmark index bond yields are 1.5 percent lower and most equity markets have fully recouped mid-2013 losses.

Global credit easing and yield appetite have fostered repair even as the commodities complex splits between firm energy prices and falling metals and agriculture. Copper’s plunge did not seem to harm demand for Zambia’s April debt market return at an 8.5 percent yield as it also considered a new IMF program to restore fiscal probity. Kenya soon after completed its long-planned debut placement at lower cost despite farm export reliance and tourism warnings associated with a spate of terrorist incidents. The Finance Minister had to postpone the issue until repayment cleanup from a previous scandal was ensured in a repeat operation.