Identifying risks in emerging market sovereign and corporate bond spreads

Working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 19 March 2012

Working Paper No. 430
By Gabriele Zinna 

This study investigates the systematic risk factors driving emerging market (EM) credit risk by jointly modelling sovereign and corporate credit spreads at a global level. We use a multi-regional Bayesian panel VAR model, with time-varying betas and multivariate stochastic volatility. This model allows us to decompose credit spreads and to build indicators of EM risks. We find that indices of EM sovereign and corporate credit spreads differ because of their specific reactions to global risk factors. Following the failure of Lehman Brothers, EM sovereign spreads ‘decoupled’ from the US corporate market. In contrast, EM corporate bond spreads widened in response to higher US corporate default risk. We also find that the response of sovereign bond spreads to the VIX was short-lived. However, both EM sovereign and corporate bond spreads widened in flight-to-liquidity episodes, as proxied by the OIS-Treasury spread. Overall, the model is capable of generating other interesting results about the comovement of sovereign and corporate spreads.

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