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Search for Yield in Large International Corporate Bonds: Investor Behavior and Firm Responses

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  • Charles W. Calomiris
  • Mauricio Larrain
  • Sergio L. Schmukler
  • Tomas Williams

Abstract

Emerging market corporations have significantly increased their borrowing in international markets since 2008. We show that this increase was driven by large-denomination bond issuances, most of them with face value of exactly US$500 million. Large issuances are eligible for inclusion in important international market indexes. These bonds appeal to institutional investors because they are more liquid and facilitate targeting market benchmarks. We find that the rewards of issuing index-eligible bonds rose drastically after 2008. Emerging market firms were able to cut their cost of funds by roughly 100 basis points by issuing bonds with a face value equal to or greater than US$500 million relative to smaller bonds. Firms contemplating whether to take advantage of this cost saving face a tradeoff: they can benefit from the lower yields associated with large, index-eligible bonds, but they pay the potential cost of having to hoard low-yielding cash assets if their investment opportunities are less than US$500 million. Because of the post-2008 “size yield discount,” many companies issued index-eligible bonds, while substantially increasing their cash holdings. The willingness to issue large bonds and hoard cash was greater for firms in countries with high carry trade opportunities that reduced the cost of holding cash. We present evidence suggesting that these post-2008 behaviors reflected a search for yield by institutional investors into higher-risk securities. These patterns are not apparent in the issuance of investment grade bonds by firms in developed economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles W. Calomiris & Mauricio Larrain & Sergio L. Schmukler & Tomas Williams, 2019. "Search for Yield in Large International Corporate Bonds: Investor Behavior and Firm Responses," NBER Working Papers 25979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25979
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    Cited by:

    1. Calomiris, Charles W. & Larrain, Mauricio & Schmukler, Sergio L., 2021. "Capital inflows, equity issuance activity, and corporate investment," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 46(C).
    2. Cortina, Juan J. & Didier, Tatiana & Schmukler, Sergio L., 2021. "Global corporate debt during crises: Implications of switching borrowing across markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C).
    3. Anil K. Kashyap & Natalia Kovrijnykh & Jian Li & Anna Pavlova, 2018. "The Benchmark Inclusion Subsidy," NBER Working Papers 25337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bacchetta, Philippe & Cordonier, Rachel & Merrouche, Ouarda, 2020. "The Rise in Foreign Currency Bonds: The Role of US Monetary Policy and Capital Controls," CEPR Discussion Papers 14928, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Tatiana Didier & Ross Levine & Ruth Llovet Montanes & Sergio L. Schmukler, 2020. "Capital Market Financing and Firm Growth," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 166, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    6. Martijn Boermans & John Burger, 2020. "Global and local currency effects on euro area investment in emerging market bonds," DNB Working Papers 676, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    7. Abraham, Facundo & Cortina, Juan J. & Schmukler, Sergio L., 2021. "The rise of domestic capital markets for corporate financing: Lessons from East Asia," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 122(C).
    8. Boris Hofmann & Ilhyock Shim & Hyun Song Shin, 2020. "Bond Risk Premia and The Exchange Rate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(S2), pages 497-520, December.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • F65 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Finance
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies

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