Working Paper no. 205
By Gianluigi Ferrucci
This paper investigates the empirical determinants of emerging market sovereign bond spreads, using a ragged-edge panel of JP Morgan EMBI and EMBI Global secondary market spreads and a set of common macro-prudential indicators. The panel is estimated using the pooled mean group technique due to Pesaran, Shin and Smith (1999). This is essentially a dynamic error correction model where cross-sectional coefficients are allowed to vary in the short run but are required to be homogeneous in the long run. This allows a separation of short-run dynamics and adjustment towards the equilibrium. The model is used to benchmark market spreads and assess whether sovereign risk was ‘overpriced’ or ‘underpriced’ during different periods over the past decade. The results suggest that a debtor country’s fundamentals and external liquidity conditions are important determinants of market spreads. However, the diagnostic statistics also indicate that the market assessment of a country’s creditworthiness is more broad based than that provided by the set of fundamentals included in the model. We also find that the generalised fall in sovereign spreads seen between 1995 and 1997 cannot be entirely explained in terms of improved fundamentals.