Game theory is a useful framework for modeling aspects of sovereign debt recoveries, given that it models the interactions among debtors and creditors in the lending/borrowing "game." While there is a long-established set of precedents for Paris Club (U.S. & European) and multilateral (IMF, etc) creditors’ actions, we still have little available information about how China will act in debt negotiations.
On January 31, 2019, J.P. Morgan, which manages the EMBI suite of emerging market bond indices, added five new countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)1 to the external debt benchmarks. This addition represents the largest ever one-time adjustment to the index that our foreign currency sovereign debt funds have historically used as a benchmark.
Periodic bouts of volatility are a fact of life for emerging market investors, but for those who can ride out such periods of real or perceived crisis, dollar-denominated EM sovereign debt can offer compelling returns.
"A rising global interest rate environment is once again leading to volatility in the emerging debt markets,” writes GMO’s Carl Ross in a newly-published Emerging Debt Insights piece. As the US 10-year Treasury has risen to the 3% neighborhood, benchmarks of emerging country bonds, both in hard currency and local currency, have fallen.
Countless articles have been written in the past 10 years predicting (or warning) of China’s imminent financial demise, with the number of articles accelerating in recent years amid China’s debt build-up in the post Global Financial Crisis period. Investing on the basis of a “China collapse” view of the world would likely have resulted in more risk-averse portfolios in the emerging debt space and, hence, lower returns in recent years.