Asian bank warns of asset price bubble

March 18, 2013 at 7:17 AM
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MANILA, March 18 (UPI) -- An Asian Development Bank official said Monday surging investments in emerging East Asia local currency bond markets could raise asset price bubble risks.

In its latest Asia Bond Monitor, the ADB, which has headquarters in Manila, reported the region's local currency bond markets grew by more than 12 percent in 2012.

Emerging East Asia includes mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"Emerging East Asia is much more resilient than it used to be but governments still need to be careful that the surge in capital inflows doesn't fuel excessive rises in asset prices and that they are prepared for a possible reversal in the flows when the economies of the U.S. and Europe pick up again," said Thiam Hee Ng, senior economist in ADB's Office of Regional Economic Integration.

At the end of last year, the emerging East Asia region had $6.5 trillion in outstanding local currency bonds, up from $5.7 trillion at the end of 2011. The corporate markets, while smaller than the government bond markets, drove the increase, growing 18.6 percent year-on-year, the bank said.

The bank said while investors have been favoring emerging East Asia since the early 1990s, their money flows have jumped in recent years because of low interest rates and slow or negative economic growth in developed economies. Additionally, emerging East Asia has enjoyed high growth rates and appreciating currencies.

The report said investments are increasingly flowing from overseas, with foreign ownership in most emerging East Asia local currency bond markets increasing in the second half of 2012.

The fastest-growing bond market in the region last year was Vietnam, up 42.7 percent from 2011, largely due to a rapid expansion in the country's government bond market. The Philippine market grew 20.5 percent and Malaysian market grew 19.9 percent.

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