Working Paper No. 373
By Guillermo Felices, Christian Grisse and Jing Yang
With an increasingly integrated global financial system, we frequently observe that shocks to individual asset markets affect financial markets worldwide. The aim of this paper is to quantify the comovements between bond markets in the US and emerging market economies using daily data from prior to the East Asian crisis through to the early stages of the current global financial crisis. We exploit the changing volatility of the data to fully identify a structural VAR, without imposing ad hoc restrictions. We find that shocks that widen emerging market sovereign debt (EMBIG) spreads have a negative effect on US interest rates in the short run (consistent with ‘flight to quality’ effects), while shocks that increase US interest rates raise EMBIG spreads over longer horizons (consistent with ‘financing cost’ or ‘search for yield’ effects). We also find that shocks that increase EMBIG spreads tend to widen US high-yield spreads and vice versa, constituting an important contagion channel through which crises in emerging market economies can affect mature markets. Forecast error variance decompositions show that shocks to US long rates can explain around 60%–70% of the variation of EMBIG and US high-yield spreads.