Posted April 14, 2020 8:07 pm by Comments

Despite the massive programs that have been swiftly put in place by central banks and fiscal authorities around the world, global capital markets remain extremely fragile. After a long cascade of negative shocks to the global economy, yet another lurks on the horizon. Many investors in the United States and elsewhere have yet to focus on the vulnerabilities faced by emerging market (EM) countries and corporations. Proof of investor complacency is clearly evidenced in the largest emerging markets bond exchange-traded fund (ETF). Currently, that ETF yields just 5 percent, not much higher than it yielded at the beginning of the year.

The current mispricing is happening despite an unprecedented surge of capital flight from emerging markets, and the fact that total debt of EM governments and corporations as a percentage of gross domestic product is significantly higher than it has ever been. Also underappreciated is the fact that while the global economic shutdown is synchronized, the spread of the virus is not. Daily new cases of COVID-19 are growing rapidly in EM countries (excluding China and Korea) as they begin to decline in parts of the developed world. For many EM countries, this pandemic will quickly escalate from a health crisis to a humanitarian crisis, and ultimately to a solvency crisis.

Rich countries can drop helicopter money on their economies with relatively little consequence, but EM monetary and fiscal solutions will further weaken their currencies, making access to dollars even harder. READ MORE

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