Investors with exposure to Argentina will have been dismayed in recent weeks by the surging cost of insuring that investment — Argentine 5-year credit default swaps have risen more than 300 basis points since mid-May to the highest levels since 2009. That means one must stump up close to $1.5 million to insure $10 million worth of Argentine debt against default for a five year period, data from Markit shows.
The rise coincides with growing fears that President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner is getting ready to crack down on people’s dollar holdings. Fears of forcible de-dollarisation have sent Argentine savers scurrying to the banks to withdraw their hard currency and stash it under mattresses. That has widened the gap between the official and the “black market” exchange rate. (see the graphic below from Capital Economics)
Just how miserable a month May was for global equity markets is summed up by index provider S&P which notes that every one of the 46 markets included in its world index (BMI) fell last month, and of these 35 posted double-digit declines. Overall, the index slumped more than 9 percent.
With Greece’s anti-austerity May 6 election result responsible for much of the red ink, it was perhaps fitting that Athens was May’s worst performer, losing almost 30 percent (it’s down 65 percent so far this year). With euro zone growth steadily deteriorating, even German stocks fell almost 15 percent in May while Portugal, Spain and Italy were the worst performing developed markets (along with Finland).
Indian markets are rallying this week as they price in an interest rate cut at the Reserve Bank’s June 18 meeting. With the country still in shock after last week’s 5.3 percent first quarter GDP growth print, it is easy to understand the clamour for rate cuts. After all, first quarter growth just a year ago was 9.2 percent.
Yet, there may be little the RBI can do to kickstart growth and investment. Many would argue the growth slowdown is not caused by tight monetary conditions but is down to supply constraints and macroeconomic risks –the government’s inability to lift a raft of crippling subsidies has swollen the fiscal deficit to almost 6 percent while inhibitions on foreign investment in food processing and retail keep food prices volatile.
India’s first-quarter GDP growth report was a shocker this morning at +5.3 percent. Much as Western countries would dream of a print that good, it’s akin to a hard landing for a country only recently aspiring to double-digit expansions and, with little hope of any strong reform impetus from the current government, things might get worse if investment flows dry up. The rupee is at a new record low having fallen 7 percent in May alone against the dollar — bad news for companies with hard currency debt maturing this year (See here). So investors are likely to find themselves paying more and more to hedge exposure to India.
Credit default swaps for the State Bank of India (used as a proxy for the Indian sovereign) are trading at almost 400 basis points. More precisely, investors must pay $388,000 to insure $10 million of exposure for a five-year period, data from Markit shows. That is well above levels for the other countries in the BRIC quartet — Brazil, China and Russia. Check out the following graphic from Markit showing the contrast between Brazil and Indian risk perceptions.
In normal times, an aggressive central bank campaign to cut interest rates would provide fodder for stock market bulls. That’s not happening in Brazil. Its interest rate, the Selic, has fallen 350 basis points since last August and is likely to fall further at this week’s meeting to a record low of 8.5 percent. Yet the Sao Paulo stock market is among the world’s worst performers this year, with losses of around 4 percent. That’s better than fellow BRIC Russia but far worse than India and China.
Brazil’s central bank and government are understandably worried about a Chinese growth slowdown that would eat into Brazilian commodity exports. They are therefore hoping that rate cuts will prepare the domestic economy to take up the slack.
As credit default swaps (CDS) for many euro zone sovereigns have zoomed to ever new record highs this year, Chinese CDS too have been quietly creeping higher. Five-year CDS are around 135 bps today, meaning it costs $135,000 a year to insure exposure to $10 million of Chinese risk over a five-year period. According to this graphic from data provider Markit, they are up almost 45 basis points in the past six weeks. In fact they are double the levels seen a year ago.
That looks modest given some of the numbers in Europe. But worries over China, while not in
LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) – High valuations and tough funding
conditions due to the euro zone crisis are affecting Turkey’s
privatisation plans, forcing the postponement of several recent
tenders, delegates at the EBRD’s annual meeting heard on
“Pre-crisis, the first priority was asset quality. If it was
good, banks were able to provide lending even if you didn’t have
equity,” Suha Gucsav, CEO of Turkish conglomerate Akfen Holding
told a conference at the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development Bank’s meeting.
LONDON (Reuters) – Lacklustre growth in emerging European economies could turn into recession if the euro zone crisis escalates, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said on Friday.
The EBRD nudged up its 2012 growth forecast for the 29-country emerging Europe and central Asia region to 3.2 percent, from 3.1 percent in its January outlook.
LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) – Lacklustre growth in emerging
European economies could turn into recession if the euro zone
crisis escalates, the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development said on Friday.
The EBRD nudged up its 2012 growth forecast for the
29-country emerging Europe and central Asia region to 3.2
percent, from 3.1 percent in its January outlook.
The Indian rupee’s plunge this week to record lows will have surprised no one. After all, the currency has been inching towards this for weeks, propelled by the government’s paralysis on vital reforms and tax wrangles with big foreign investors. These are leading to a drying up of FDI and accelerating the exodus from stock markets. Industrial production and exports have been falling. High oil prices have added a nasty twist to that cocktail. If the euro zone noise gets louder, a balance of payments crisis may loom. The rupee could fall further to 56 per dollar, most analysts predict.
True, the rupee is not the only emerging currency that is taking a hit. But the Reserve Bank of India looks especially powerless to stem the decline. (See here for an article by my colleagues in Mumbai) . One reason the RBI’s hands are effectively tied is that India is one of the few emerging economies that has failed to build up its hard currency reserves since the 2008 crisis and so is unable to spend in the currency’s defence. Usable FX reserves stand now around $260 bilion, down from $300 billion just before the 2008 crisis. See the following graphic from UBS which shows that relative to GDP, India’s reserve loss has been the greatest in emerging markets.