Saturday, October 31, 2009

Economics 31/10/2009: Latest data on Irish Resident Foreign Assets Holdings

CSO released (yesterday) latest data on Resident Holdings of Foreign Portfolio Securities. Charts below illustrate the trends.

First the aggregate stuff:
Notice that 2006-2007 overall trend implies peaking of foreign assets holdings by Irish residents at 2007, and a decline in asset holdings in 2008 to the levels below those recorded in December 2006. This is clearly reflective of the general external crisis in asset markets and is expected to record even further and more dramatic deterioration in 2009. Holdings of bonds and notes also declined from a peak on 2007, but less dramatically in relative terms - reflective of flight to safety into public debt markets by many investors. Again, similar trend to global. Equity holdings took the most sever beating, in line with global markets.

One interesting point is that Money Markets instruments holdings (not plotted above) have also declined in 2007 and 2008. This suggests two idiosyncratic developments in Ireland:
  • risk reductions took place in 2007, well before the full-blown global crisis of 2008, but in line with a financial markets crunch that began in August 2007;
  • both cash and equities were likely to have been used by Irish residents to offset leveraged losses (these are the most liquid instruments that can be used readily to meet margin calls) and this process was on-going in 2007, suggesting serious leveraging exposure to derivatives markets in Irish resident portfolios - a conclusion that would time declines in money markets instruments back to August 2007, when derivatives markets collapse triggered subsequent run on equities).
Now to some more detailed sub-categories of assets. Starting with total foreign asset holdings by country of asset origin:
There is a clear indication here that Irish resident portfolia are heavily geared toward UK and US assets (nothing surprising, as these allocations are only slightly ahead of global diversified portoflia bias toward these two countries). There is also present a relatively heavy allocation bias toward European and EEC securities. However, the real area of geographic diversification imbalance is found amongst the middle income (BRICs) and emerging markets allocations.

Ditto for bonds and Notes:
In terms of Equity allocations:
There is a clear imbalance in Irish resident positions with equity exposure to only a select subset of OECD economies. There is virtually no presence of high growth economies in the overall equity portfolios in Ireland.

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