Emerging market corporate debt is in high demand, as we pointed out in this article yesterday. But we noted headwinds too, not least the amount of debt that will fall due in coming years as a result of the current bond issuance bonanza.
Which bond would you rather buy — one issued by a country with an unpredictable leader but huge oil reserves, or one with a dictatorial president as well as empty coffers? The answer should be a no brainer. Not so. The countries are Venezuela and Belarus, and a basic comparison of their debt profiles shows how strangely risk can be priced in emerging markets.
Equities may be having a stop-start kind of month, but investors do seem to be more willing to take on risk than before. The latest numbers from EPFR Global, a tracker of investment flows, show high-yield bond funds raking in the money in the second week of January. A net $766 million flowed into the HY funds tracked by the firm. At the same time, a net $578 million flowed into U.S. municipal bond funds.