By Bank for International Settlements Monetary and Economic Department
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Additional resources for Asian bond markets: Issues and prospects (BIS Papers, Number 30)
Regional initiatives for a rating agency and clearing system are structurally more risky in their dependence on an image of regional bond market development. A regional rating agency will ultimately have to pass the test of being at least a point of reference for investors from outside the region. In other words, its establishment needs to anticipate the integration of bond markets in the region into global markets. By its nature, a regional clearing system must ultimately be hooked up with national systems on one side and global ones like Euroclear and Clearstream on the other.
This proportion declined over the next 10 years, but recovered as Canadian firms sold Canadian dollar bonds in the eurobond market (moving from the domestic bond market to the global bond market in the second sense). This offshore demand for Canadian dollar bonds was associated with the higher interest rates on Canadian dollar bonds than on US dollar bonds at the time. As Canadian interest rates converged to US interest rate levels in the 1990s, the offshore demand dropped off and the Canadian dollar share started to fall again.
Unlike the EU countries in the years before the introduction of the euro, the international dollar market still captures most of the offshore issuance of bonds by regional borrowers. A variety of factors seem to be responsible for the relatively small role of existing regional bond markets in the international fund-raising of regional borrowers. Regulation used to limit access to the yen market by lower-rated borrowers and still imposes some costs. At this point, however, it is probably the aversion of Japanese investors to credit risk which poses the larger hurdle to regional issuance.