The emerging market asset class has been going through difficult times of late. The last month in particular was brutal – thanks to a sell-off in currency, debt and equity markets. This was not the beginning of the travails of emerging markets; emerging market equities have been underperforming vis-a-vis developed market equities since mid-2010. During this period, a performance gap of 55 per cent opened up. This significant performance gap has caught investors by surprise, not least because the economies of the emerging world continue to grow faster than those of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Also, barring a few exceptions, high inflation – the usual destroyer of the bull market in the emerging world – has not materialised.
Growth has not mattered as two-thirds of the outperformance of developed markets over the last 30 months can be explained by multiple expansion. Price-equity multiples in developed markets have gone up to nearly 14 times earnings, while emerging market multiples have remained stagnant at 10 times.
When the global liquidity push began with the first round of quantitative easing, there was a clear belief on the part of most investors that a lot of this so-called hot money would flow into emerging market equities. This, as discussed above, has not really happened. Money did flow into emerging markets, but it went more into debt markets than into equity. This was not just yield chasing, as low total indebtedness in emerging markets (compared to most OECD countries) and far lower fiscal deficits narrowed the default risk premium for fixed income markets in the emerging world. The fundamentals for emerging market debt genuinely improved. Read More
Will the bond market vigilantes come to the eurozone and wreak havoc? The strong market reaction to a change in expectations about the monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve suggests that the period of ultra-low market interest rates may be coming to an end sooner or later. The markets recovered at the end of the week hoping that this moment might arrive later. For the eurozone, the implications would neither be immediate, nor direct – but potentially significant.
To see the impact, it is important to understand why bond market conditions have become so propitious since last summer. One reason is that investors firmly believed a pledge from Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, to provide an unlimited backstop to the eurozone’s sovereign debt market. They also attached strong credibility to the notion of a eurozone banking union. This, however, remains work in progress.
If both of those projects were for real, the eurozone crisis would indeed be over since the combination of the two would end all default risk. The ECB would guarantee the solvency of the states. The banking union would guarantee the solvency of the banks. The ECB would guarantee the liquidity of the banks. And the banks would guarantee the liquidity of the states. Read More
2012 has been a year in which investors have become much more comfortable with sovereign debt. Below is a snapshot showing credit default swap (CDS) prices for the sovereign debt of 42 countries around the world. As shown, only one country saw its default risk increase in 2012 — Argentina. Six countries saw default risk fall by more than 70%, and they are all European countries. And while the US still has low default risk compared to the rest of the world, it only fell 16% in 2012, which ranks it fourth worst on the list. The Fiscal Cliff looms large.
It’s been awhile since we last posted on sovereign default risk in the form of credit default swaps, so below we take a look at how risk has changed over the past few months for 59 countries around the world. For each country, we highlight the current price (in basis points) of 5-year credit default swaps on its sovereign debt along with the price and date of its 6-month high in default risk. As an example, a country with a 5-year CDS price of 100 means that it costs $100 per year to insure $10,000 worth of that country’s debt for five years. Read More
We lower estimates and target prices for banks in our coverage universe, given our expectation of modest profitability led by slowing credit demand and asset quality headwinds. The fiscal deficit slippage and high bond yields are likely to limit near-term valuations. However, in the event of improved macroeconomic conditions, capital infusion and better loan-loss coverage, the sector would merit a re-rating. We change our stance from Overweight to Neutral on the sector and reiterate our preference for banks with high tier-1 capital and high NPA coverage.
Delay in capex investment cycle affecting credit demand. Credit growth is likely to face challenges as capital expenditure (capex) by most large companies has been on hold. Non-mortgage retail credit demand is weaker than in the past, with banks shying away from unsecured retail lending. We estimate FY12 and FY13 credit growth for our coverage universe of large-cap banks at 18.4% and 22.1%, respectively, lower than previous estimates.
Asset quality to drive price performance. India’s slow-growth environment and weakening corporate credit profiles are likely to increase asset quality concerns for loan portfolios. Waning industrial production is expected to lead to higher NPAs, and hence raise credit costs. Perceptions of default risk are likely to be high till macro-economic conditions improve and hence determine the price movements of banking stocks.
Lower earnings and target prices. We lower sector earning estimates by 9.6% and 8.4% for FY12 and FY13, respectively, led by lower loan growth and higher NPA provisions. We also lower our price targets. We prefer banks that are better placed to manage the NPA cycle with: (1) higher tier-1 capital relative to stressed assets and; (2) high NPA-coverage.
The European Central Bank needs to act now in order to avert a potential default by a nation like Spain or Italy, Citigroup Inc.’s (C) chief economist told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.
“Time is running out fast,” Willem Buiter said in an interview. “I think we have maybe a few months–it could be weeks, it could even be days–before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy, which will be a financial catastrophe dragging down the European banking system and North America with it.”
Other than increasing the size of the European Financial Stability Facility, which would be difficult for political reasons, Buiter added, “the only remaining show is the ECB, and they may have to hold their noses while they do it, and if they don’t do it, it’s the end of the euro zone.”
Well, it is not just the CDS ban, the fact that Greece is now done is also a modest factor, but since nobody can short Greek default risk unhedged, the only option is to short the bonds. As they did today en masse. Greek 1 Year bonds: the most liquid proxy for default in the absence of 1 Year CDS, closed at 183%, after hitting an all time high of 188%, following yesterday’s 173% close. To all those who bought 1 Year Greek bonds when yields hit 100% a month ago because “they just couldn’t possibly drop any more, and you would double your money in one year guaranteed”, condolences for the 50% loss. We are certain that a new batch of bottom callers will emerge, this time calling for doubling your money in six months…. Then three.. Then one and a half… etc… Until finally Zeno’s paradox catches up and you either double your money overnight or you lose it all.
While all eyes this morning are on Chinese CDS (with about an 18 month delay: about par for a centrally planned market), which has finally blown out, the shifting of attention has done nothing to fix the situation in Europe, where CDS is once again wider across the board.
The default risk is increasingly shifting from the periphery to the core. And while the spreads in the PIIGS will resume widening within a few days, German CDS will not tighten, and in fact as of this morning, German 5 Year CDS is wider than the UK – for the first time since January 2008.