Emerging Market Debt Ratios – Opportunities And RiskEmerging Market Debt Ratios – Opportunities And Risk

In general, emerging market governments learned important lessons from the crises of the 1990s, resulting in a more cautious approach towards fiscal excesses and external debt exposure, as seen for example in Turkey, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil. That allowed emerging markets as a whole to better weather the 2008/9 global financial crisis, while developed market peers faced a strong jump in debt/GDP ratios.

Nonetheless, the post-2013 rise in emerging market public debt ratios (Figure 1) highlights: 1) the vulnerability of emerging market commodity exporters to commodity price shocks (mainly Middle East and ex-Soviet Union or CIS countries), 2) the damage that negative politics can have on economies, important examples being Brazil, Egypt and South Africa, and 3) the expansive fiscal policy reaction that was needed in China to cushion the domestic (and global) economy against a hard landing.

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