Saturday, September 18, 2010

Economics 18/9/10: IMF data on bond yields

With all the debate, recently fueled by the Governor of our Central Bank and Minister for Finance, concerning the level of Irish bond yields, it is always insightful to look at the historic evidence as the source of better understanding of the underlying bond markets realities.

Fortunately, courtesy of the IMF, there is some new evidence on this issue available. IMF working paper, WP/10/184, titled "Fiscal Deficits, Public Debt, and Sovereign Bond Yields" by Emanuele Baldacci and Manmohan S. Kumar (August 2010) does superb analysis "of the impact of fiscal deficits and public debt on long-term interest rates during 1980–2008, taking into account a wide range of country-specific factors, for a panel of 31 advanced and emerging market economies."

In a summary, the paper "finds that higher deficits and public debt lead to a significant increase in long-term interest rates, with the precise magnitude dependent on initial fiscal, institutional and other structural conditions, as well as spillovers from global financial markets. Taking into account these factors suggests that large fiscal deficits and public debts are likely to put substantial upward pressures on sovereign bond yields in many advanced economies over the medium term."

But the detailed reading is required to see the following: "the impact of fiscal balances on real yields provided results that were quite similar to the baseline, although the size of the estimated coefficients was larger: an increase in the fiscal deficit of 1 percent of GDP was seen to raise real yields by about 30–34 basis points." (Emphasis is mine). Table below provides estimates:
By the above numbers, Irish bonds currently should be yielding over 7.54%. Not 6.5% we've seen so far, but 7.54%. This puts into perspective the statements about 'ridiculously high' yields being observed today.

If we toss into this relationship the effect of change in our public debt position, plus a risk premium over Germany (note that the estimates refer to the average for countries that include not just Ireland, but 29 other developed economies, including US, Germany, Japan and so on), the expected historically-justified yield on our 10 year bonds will rise to
  • deficit-induced 7.54% +
  • country risk premium driven by deterioration in economic growth adjusting for ECB rates) of 1.46%+
  • change from initial public debt position 0.30%
So the total, fundamentals-justified Irish 10 year bond yield should be around 9.30%.

Don't believe me? Well here's a historic plot that reflects not a wishful thinking of our policymakers, but the reality of what has transpired in the markets over almost 30 years.
Ooops... looks like our ex-banks deficits warrant the yields well above 10% and on average closer to 15%, nominal (remember the above yields computed based on model results are real). Alternatively, for our bond yields to be justified at 6.5% we need to cut our deficit back to around 5.2% mark and hold our debt to GDP ratio steady.

Someone, quick, show this stuff to our bonds 'gurus' in the Government.
Post a Comment