Feb 19, 2019 - Economy & Business

The globe goes dovish

Rubem Novaes, the new president of the Bank of Brazil. Photo: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

The reversal of quantitative tightening has now gone global.

The big picture: Emerging market central banks are now the most dovish they have been since 2009, Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists said. Their findings were based on language in various central bank statements.

  • Since the Federal Reserve's dovish turn in January, other central banks have followed suit, including the European Central Bank, Bank of England and Bank of Japan, with emerging markets now joining the action.
  • "EM central banks have turned the most dovish since 2009 because of the mounting fears of a sharp slowdown evident across Asia and Europe in particular," David Hauner, head of emerging EMEA economics at BAML, tells Axios. "The source of the slowdown is weakness in China."

The latest:

The move away from tightening policy comes as global debt levels have reached more than 300% of the world's GDP and emerging markets have taken on an increasingly unsustainable debt load.

  • The world is now "pushing at the boundaries of comfortably sustainable debt," IIF's managing director of policy initiatives Sonja Gibbs told Axios last month.

Why it matters: Loosening monetary policy tends to boost economic growth but also weaken local currencies and create asset bubbles. That puts added stress on countries' debts, which for many emerging markets are issued in dollars, euros or renminbi rather than their own currencies.

  • That means that if things don't go well, they increase the likelihood of defaulting on their sovereign debts, endangering bondholders around the globe.

Go deeper: Emerging markets go mainstream

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