The BIS’ Claim Filing Clamor

The BIS’ lagged cross-border emerging market banking claims tally for the last quarter of 2014 showed another drop to below the $4 trillion mark as the global total also fell for Asia and Europe in particular. The period represented a second successive drop as seen previously during the Fed taper tantrum and 2008-09 crisis, but systemic damage was not posed as flows to Latin America and the Middle East/Africa rose to almost $1 trillion combined.  China alone had the same amount in outstanding lines, and associated Hong Kong accounted for another $400 billion while India was far behind at $200 billion. Europe was off $50 billion to $725 billion, half due to Russia’s sanctions but also to euro depreciation against the dollar. Latin American exposure is up post-crisis especially to Mexico, but Brazil at $250 billion remains the largest recipient. In the Mideast Saudi Arabia attracted $75 billion but local bank liquidity obviates external borrowing, according to the study.

The statistics focus on short versus long-term and bank against non-bank activity with Asia the outlier in both riskier measures. The bank claim portion is close to Developed Europe’s 45 percent and 70 percent are under one-year maturity. Along with China, Korea and Singapore are concentrated in that bucket. Regional lending at 15 percent of GDP is one-third the peak during the 1990s financial crisis, and the Chinese spurt may have been due to currency carry trading as well as trade credit and invoice manipulation. Russian participation in contrast is in the non-bank private sector and net redemptions have lowered the total to $125 billion. In advanced economies it continues to shrink from $25 trillion pre-crisis to $20 trillion at the end of last year, with the UK, France and Germany each over $1 trillion and Japan just below that number.

Current EPFR bond fund data in turn reflects $500 million in weekly allocation since March with three-quarters in hard currency. Retail and institutional investor participation through May is around $15 billion by broader industry estimates, and local and external sovereigns are 80 percent together in portfolios as compared with corporates’ 20 percent. Sovereign gross issuance is over $40 billion over one-quarter euro-denominated, and on a net basis the remaining 2015 pipeline will be flat. The foreign corporate equivalent is $125 billion, behind last year’s pace, with quasi-sovereigns half the sum and 80 percent investment-grade rated. Asia accounts for two-thirds of placements, and the six-month Brazilian drought was just broken in the wake of Petrobras’ belated earnings release.

Brazil’s sovereign rating may be saved from demotion with the Petrobras disclosure and fiscal adjustment plans, but recession will likely impede return to primary surplus targets. India has been an overcrowded position as oil price rebound may hurt the current account deficit and inflation trajectory. Land and tax reforms are still stuck in parliament and state banks with large nonperforming infrastructure loans need recapitalization soon. Indonesia’s Jokowi was originally cast in the Modi game-changer mold but has since disappointed with populist economic policies and crony appointments demanded by his broader political affiliation. After cutting fuel subsidies, macro-prudential curbs in consumer loans were lifted to honor party claims.

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