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16 May 2019

The emerging solution to investors’ search for yield

Nothing seems to be making developed-market bond yields rise at the moment, leaving investors with a serious headache – where can they find the income they need? One answer might be in emerging market bonds. Even though they’ve rallied with most other risky assets this year, there’s reason to believe they could rise further from here. 


An expanding market

Bond markets have become an increasingly important source of financing for both the public and private sectors since the mid-1990s, especially in emerging markets. Several developing countries have opened their local markets to foreign investors over this time to widen and diversify their investor base. Foreign participation has also helped spur the development of robust market infrastructure and more transparent market practice. Emerging debt now accounts for nearly 30% of the total global fixed income market.

The growth of emerging debt within the global bond market ($bn)

em blog graph 1

Sources: JP Morgan, Bank of America, as of December 2018


In high demand

Recent demand for emerging debt has been driven by investors searching for returns above inflation at a time when US Treasury yields are low and those of German Bunds have fallen below zero once again.  Barring the recent market downturn, there have been strong inflows into the asset class since the beginning of year and these have been accompanied by an impressive rally in emerging market rates, especially in China, Russia, Mexico and Brazil.

em graph 2
* ETFs listed in Europe. Source: Lyxor International Asset Management, Bloomberg, data as at 05/05/2019

A supportive backdrop

Can emerging bonds rally even further this year? Subdued US rates expectations and easier external funding conditions continue to offer breathing space for those emerging markets with heavy FX and / or external debt burdens.  Many emerging countries have started to improve their trade balances through cheaper exports and by fighting inflation via rate hikes. Most hold relatively high foreign currency reserves, which could help them service their debt if necessary. What’s more, the market volatility in late 2018 led many emerging issuers to put off offering new debt. The level of supply was 15% lower in the first quarter of 2019 compared to Q1 last year and future supply is likely to remain contained. 


Issuance for the first quarter of each year

Hard-currency emerging market debt issuance (US$ bn)

em graph 3

For 2019, figures are as at 26 March 2019. Source: Refinitiv, Lyxor International Asset Management

There are other supportive factors to consider. Lower inflationary pressures mean there is ample scope for central banks to cut rates in Asia and elsewhere. The outlook for the US dollar is quite stable at present, providing support to the outlook for hard-currency bonds. Emerging bond investors will also be carefully assessing whether the rebound in Chinese growth continues into the second half of the year and into 2020, as this is likely to have big implications for the asset class.

Passive and active emerging debt investments with Lyxor 

At Lyxor, we offer both passive and active emerging debt strategies. If you’re looking to closely track the performance of an emerging-market bond index, our ETF replicates an index of large, liquid USD-denominated government bonds issued by 20 emerging countries. The index is well diversified, with the Middle East & Africa accounting for over a third of its holdings, Latin America over a quarter, and about a third split between Asia Pacific and Europe. And because the underlying bonds are issued in hard currency (USD), there is no exposure to emerging FX risk. If credit risk is a concern, it’s worth noting that the index is evenly split between investment-grade and high-yield bonds.

icons em


For investors looking for a strategy with the potential to provide returns above those of the broad emerging debt market, Lyxor AM has partnered with Marathon Asset Management, a global expert in corporate debt, to provide an actively managed fund that invests in hard-currency bonds issued by emerging-market sovereigns, quasi-sovereigns and corporates.  The fund uses no derivatives and takes no exposure to local rates or currencies.  It seeks to outperform its benchmark through issue selection based on Marathon’s sourcing capabilities and technical and relative value analysis. 

Find more about Lyxor’s Marathon fund

1Source: Lyxor International Asset Management, as at 31/12/2018. Efficiency data are over one year and based on the efficiency indicator created by Lyxor’s research department in 2013. It examines three components of performance: tracking error, liquidity and the buy-sell price spread. Each peer group includes the relevant Lyxor ETF share-class and the four largest ETF share classes issued by other providers, representing at least 5% market-share on the underlying index. ETF sizes are considered to be an average of assets under management over the relevant time period. The detailed methodology behind the efficiency indicator can be found in the paper ‘Measuring Performance of Exchange Traded Funds’ by Marlène Hassine and Thierry Roncalli. Statements refer to the European UCITS ETF market. Past performance is no guide to future returns.

2Source: Lyxor International Asset Management. Data correct as at 13/05/2019.

Risk Warning​

This document is for the exclusive use of investors acting on their own account and categorised either as “Eligible Counterparties” or “Professional Clients” within the meaning of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2014/65/EU. These products comply with the UCITS Directive (2009/65/EC). Société Générale and Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM) recommend that investors read carefully the “investment risks” section of the product’s documentation (prospectus and KIID). The prospectus and KIID are available free of charge on www.lyxoretf.com, and upon request to client-services-etf@lyxor.com.

Except for the United-Kingdom, where this communication is issued in the UK by Lyxor Asset Management UK LLP, which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK under Registration Number 435658, this communication is issued by Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM), a French management company authorized by the Autorité des marchés financiers and placed under the regulations of the UCITS (2014/91/EU) and AIFM (2011/61/EU) Directives. Société Générale is a French credit institution (bank) authorised by the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (the French Prudential Control Authority).

The products mentioned are the object of market-making contracts, the purpose of which is to ensure the liquidity of the products on the London Stock Exchange, assuming normal market conditions and normally functioning computer systems. Units of a specific UCITS ETF managed by an asset manager and purchased on the secondary market cannot usually be sold directly back to the asset manager itself. Investors must buy and sell units on a secondary market with the assistance of an intermediary (e.g. a stockbroker) and may incur fees for doing so. In addition, investors may pay more than the current net asset value when buying units and may receive less than the current net asset value when selling them. Updated composition of the product’s investment portfolio is available on www.lyxoretf.com. In addition, the indicative net asset value is published on the Reuters and Bloomberg pages of the product, and might also be mentioned on the websites of the stock exchanges where the product is listed.

Prior to investing in the product, investors should seek independent financial, tax, accounting and legal advice. It is each investor’s responsibility to ascertain that it is authorised to subscribe, or invest into this product. This document is of a commercial nature and not of a regulatory nature. This material is of a commercial nature and not a regulatory nature. This document does not constitute an offer, or an invitation to make an offer, from Société Générale, Lyxor Asset Management (together with its affiliates, Lyxor AM) or any of their respective subsidiaries to purchase or sell the product referred to herein.

Research disclaimer

Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) or its employees may have or maintain business relationships with companies covered in its research reports. As a result, investors should be aware that LIAM and its employees may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Investors should consider this report as only a single factor in making their investment decision. Please see appendix at the end of this report for the analyst(s) certification(s), important disclosures and disclaimers. Alternatively, visit our global research disclosure website www.lyxoretf.com/compliance.

Conflicts of interest 

This research contains the views, opinions and recommendations of Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists. To the extent that this research contains trade ideas based on macro views of economic market conditions or relative value, it may differ from the fundamental Cross Asset and ETF Research opinions and recommendations contained in Cross Asset and ETF Research sector or company research reports and from the views and opinions of other departments of LIAM and its affiliates. Lyxor Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists routinely consult with LIAM sales and portfolio management personnel regarding market information including, but not limited to, pricing, spread levels and trading activity of ETFs tracking equity, fixed income and commodity indices. Trading desks may trade, or have traded, as principal on the basis of the research analyst(s) views and reports. Lyxor has mandatory research policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to (i) ensure that purported facts in research reports are based on reliable information and (ii) to prevent improper selective or tiered dissemination of research reports. In addition, research analysts receive compensation based, in part, on the quality and accuracy of their analysis, client feedback, competitive factors and LIAM’s total revenues including revenues from management fees and investment advisory fees and distribution fees.

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