Understanding Risk and Return in EM Local Currency Debt

for US dollar based investors

Emerging-market debt (EMD) denominated in local currency has been very volatile over the last few years. After falling by 33% in USD terms from May 2013 to January 2016, the asset class has rebounded strongly since and now attracts renewed interest from global investors. Over its history—from 2003 to 2016—its annualized return, as measured in USD, is 8.34%. Over the same period, it has also recorded annualized ex-post volatility of 12%, as well as rolling three-year annualized volatility between 8% and 16%. That level of volatility gives the local-currency EMD a risk profile that fits between those of the US High Yield Corporate Index and the S&P 500.

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