Paul Krugman and Dani Rodrik are out with dueling op-eds (the latter written with Arvind Subramanian) on the subject of the latest bout of financial-market craziness in places like Argentina and Turkey. Both men have been following emerging-market crises for decades; both indeed, are world-class experts on such episodes. What’s more, both economists have a broadly left-liberal worldview: there’s no deep ideological or philosophical rift here. And yet the two seem diametrically opposed.
Thanks to Mohamed El-Erian for pointing this out in his latest Secular Outlook: the market risk spread on advanced economies now exceeds that on emerging economies.
Landon Thomas’s report from Montenegro is full of fun datapoints, including the fact that the prime minister, Milo Djukanovic, officially gets paid only 1,256 euros per month. There’s also a delicious irony in the fact that he avoided prosecution by Italian authorities by declaring diplomatic immunity. And then there’s this:
Yesterday was the EMTA annual meeting, complete with its venerable and always interesting panel of buy-siders. My favorite is always Hari Hariharan of NWI managment: when asked what his favorite trade is, he never says something simple like “long Brazil”. Instead, it’s invariably a complex relative-value trade: this year he said that “a one year forward 2s-5s steepener in Korea could be an offsetting trade to receiving front-end Mexico”. You’re welcome.
This chart (via Paul) I think is too meek: of course the current emerging-markets boom is debt-financed. And boy does it look bubblicious, what with the Bovespa having doubled in the past 12 months and rapidly approaching its all-time high. I’m a believer in the long-term future of Brazil, and even count a Brazilian ETF among my few investments. But at this point any investment in emerging markets looks very much like a speculative momentum play: don’t invest anything you can’t afford to lose.
Ecuador has closed out its bond exchange offer at the higher end of expectations, paying 35 cents on the dollar to investors who hold the 2012 and 2030 global bonds. That’s higher than the bonds have traded all year, and certainly higher than they have traded since Ecuador defaulted — which means that any vulture investors who bought the bonds in default will be able to lock in a decent profit for doing essentially no work at all.
According to Ecuador’s finance minister — and there’s no reason not to believe her — there’s been “excellent” take-up of her offer to buy back Ecuador’s 2012 and 2030 bonds at somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 cents on the dollar. As Reuters’s Maria Eugenia Tello notes,