【英语财经】警惕新兴市场的信贷风险 Expect lasting EM pain as corporate infection spreads to sovereigns

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2016-4-11 20:07

小艾摘要: The ebb and flow of asset values this year has been larger than on previous occasions, but it is very unlikely that we are at a long-term inflection point for emerging markets.Against a background of ...
Expect lasting EM pain as corporate infection spreads to sovereigns
The ebb and flow of asset values this year has been larger than on previous occasions, but it is very unlikely that we are at a long-term inflection point for emerging markets.

Against a background of sentiment-motored noise, one can pick up the steadily louder hum of increasing EM leverage, the bulk of it in the corporate sector. Yet EM corporate credit has held up better than US high yield. The fact that energy figures more prominently in EM corporate benchmarks makes this outperformance more intriguing.

Some argue that the relative resilience is explained simply by the fact that most EM corporate credit is investment grade. However, ratings are not the assuring anchor they once were; our credit RiskMetrics suggest that EM ratings have only begun a process of being cut several notches.

The real reason EM corporates have been able to avoid serious stress is that about 35 per cent of outstanding paper is issued by partially or wholly government-owned companies. In energy, a sector still under pressure despite the modest rebound in oil prices, the government ownership ratio is close to 70 per cent. “The sovereign will not let the quasi-sovereign default” is a much too common refrain in EM investment circles and it is very likely correct. But even as governments can delay the pain for some companies, their involvement also engineers a transmission of pain from credit to other assets.

In the US default rates in the energy sector are expected to rise to 11 per cent in 2016, a grim reflection of over-investment. But, no matter how acute this pain is, it does not seriously affect sectors such as healthcare, consumer staples and technology. Default rates ex-energy and materials are below long-term averages. Given the strong negative correlations between high yield spreads and government bond yields, one may argue that as energy companies confront stress, the cost of equity for a typical non-energy company falls.

Not so in EM. Weak public-sector corporations risk infecting sovereign balance sheets when many are already under fiscal pressure due to sustained weakness in growth. As EM governments suppress corporate trouble, their own credit risk will probably rise, nudging their yields higher. The cost of equity then rises for every company, even those that are fundamentally sound, in sectors unrelated to the one in trouble.

The accepted wisdom is that low public debt ratios compared with developed markets will enable EM governments to retain a very generous fiscal stance for a good while yet. However, EM’s weaker institutions, shallower markets and under-developed debt resolution mechanisms invalidate a like-for-like comparison with developed-economy public debt. Historically EM countries have slipped into crises at much lower levels of government and private leverage than have developed markets.

A link that reinforces the loop of trouble between EM corporates and sovereigns is the financial sector, which also happens to be the largest issuer of hard-currency debt in EM. The non-performing loan cycle in EM has yet to manifest itself fully, even though debt service ratios for the private sector are higher than in developed markets. That is because investors, both external and local, have been happy to roll over maturing debt until recently. But rising leverage and a more elevated opportunity cost of global capital are whittling down investors’ appetite at a time when EM refinancing needs are rising.

There are warning signs aplenty over in EM equities, which are less interested in a company’s capacity to touch its parent for a quick penny and more focused on its ability to generate profits. State-owned enterprises, particularly financials, have underperformed broader indices for several years. It is a damning statement on EM corporate management that the return on equity has fallen even though leverage has gone up. State-owned enterprises have been centre stage in this act. So far EM equity investors have had to deal with weak earnings and a low return on equity. As corporate debt infects sovereign debt, they may also have to worry about a rising cost of equity.

The pain in EM corporate credit will begin with a lag, but it is very likely to demand more than its pound of flesh. And the collateral damage will be broader and may last longer than in developed markets.

Bhanu Baweja is head of EM strategy at UBS Investment Bank

今年,资产价格起起落落的幅度超过以前,但新兴市场不太可能处于长期拐点。

在由市场情绪驱动的噪音之下,人们能够听到分贝越来越高的新兴市场杠杆增加的声音,其中大部分杠杆来自企业部门。然而,新兴市场企业信贷的表现一直优于美国的高收益债券。能源在新兴市场企业基准指数中的地位更为突出,这令其优异表现显得更为耐人寻味。

一些人认为,多数新兴市场企业信贷为投资级这一事实可以解释这种相对的韧性。然而,评级不再像以前那样是一种让人放心的指标;我们的信贷模型RiskMetrics显示,新兴市场评级被下调几个等级的过程只是刚刚开始。

新兴市场企业一直能够避免重大危机的真正原因是,约35%的已发行债券是由政府参股或全资所有的企业发行。在仍面临压力(尽管油价温和反弹)的能源领域,政府持股比例接近70%。在新兴市场投资圈子里,“主权国家不会让准主权债券违约”是老生常谈,而且很有可能说的是对的。然而,即便政府可以延迟一些公司的痛苦,它们的介入也使得痛苦从信贷传导至其他资产。

在美国,能源行业今年的违约率预计将升至11%,这是过度投资的可怕写照。但不管这种痛苦有多么剧烈,它也不会严重影响医疗、日常消费品和科技等领域。除能源和原材料行业之外行业的违约率低于长期均值。鉴于高收益债券息差与政府债券收益率之间的强负相关性,有人可能会主张,在能源企业面临压力之际,一般非能源企业的权益成本会下滑。

新兴市场并非如此。在很多主权国家因经济增长持续疲弱已面临财政压力之际,状况不佳的公共部门企业可能会影响到主权资产负债表。当新兴市场政府抑制企业困境加剧时,它们自己的信用风险可能会上升,这将推高它们所发债券的收益率。接着所有企业的权益成本都会上升,甚至那些基本面良好、处于与困境企业毫不相干的行业的企业也会如此。

人们达成的一种共识是,与发达市场相比,处于低位的公共部门债务比率将令新兴市场政府得以在长时间内保持非常慷慨的财政姿态。然而,新兴市场实力较弱的机构、根基较浅的市场以及欠发达的债务解决机制,使得将其与发达经济体的公共部门债务进行类比是站不住脚的。从历史上来说,新兴市场国家曾在政府和私营部门杠杆水平远低于发达市场的情况下陷入危机。

加剧新兴市场企业债券与主权债券之间危机循环的一个环节是金融业,该行业恰恰也是新兴市场硬通货债券的最大发行者。尽管新兴市场私营部门的债务偿还比率高于发达市场,但新兴市场的不良贷款周期尚未完全展开。这是因为直到最近,国外和国内投资者都一直乐意对到期债务展期。但在新兴市场再融资需求上升之际,不断上升的杠杆和全球资本机会成本的升高正削弱投资者的兴趣。

新兴市场股市发出了很多警示信号,新兴市场股市对企业能否从母公司快速获得资金不那么感兴趣,而是更多关注它们创造利润的能力。国有企业(尤其是金融机构)的表现多年来一直逊于大盘指数。尽管杠杆上升,但股本回报率下滑,这是对新兴市场企业管理层的诅咒。国有企业一直处于核心。迄今为止,新兴市场股市投资者不得不应对微薄的企业盈利和较低的股本回报率。由于企业债券会影响主权债券,他们可能还不得不担心权益成本上升。

新兴市场企业信贷的痛苦将延迟出现,但它所需要的可能不仅仅是割肉。连带损失的范围会更广,而且持续的时间可能超过发达市场。

本文作者是瑞银投资银行(UBS Investment Bank)新兴市场策略主管

译者/梁艳裳

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