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The dollar debt of companies in Latin America: the warning signs

Iader Giraldo and Philip Turner

No 20025, Documentos de trabajo from FLAR

Abstract: A decade of low interest rates in the major currencies and failings in the regulatory oversight of international bond markets have led investors to take more and more risk in their search for higher yields. Non-financial corporations (NFC's) in Latin America have taken full advantage, and their dollar indebtedness is now heavier than for corporations in most other emerging market regions. This paper documents the many warning signs of macroeconomic and financial instability in the region from such indebtedness. Macroeconomic data show that the NFC sector has become much more leveraged and faces increased currency mismatches. Microeconomic data drawn from a sample of more than 160 companies confirm that several balance sheet indicators have deteriorated for firms in both the tradable and the non-tradable sectors. As dollar debts were rising, profits were declining, capital expenditures falling and solvency risk rising. This situation warrants careful and continuous monitoring by the authorities in the region. Macroprudential policies in Latin America need to address with urgency the vulnerabilities created by international market-based finance and ensure that local banks remain resilient to external financial shocks. Interest rates will rise and, given the recent warnings of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), some regulatory tightening affecting bond markets is likely.

Keywords: Non-financial corporate debt; Latin America; currency mismatches; global liquidity; corporate balance sheets; FSB; IMF; BIS (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D25 E44 F30 F34 F65 G15 G18 G28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 43
Date: 2022-02-28
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ban, nep-ifn and nep-mac
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