Corporate Finance

Global Debt Issuance Drops Sharply in Q1

Long-term corporate debt was particularly off, trailing the volume of issuance in last year's first quarter by 17%.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 26, 2016

The volume of long-term corporate debt issuance globally was down 17% in this year’s first quarter, compared with the same period in 2015, according to a new report from Standard & Poor’s.

Total global issuance of new debt, including corporate debt as well as public financing and investor-placed structured financing, was $1.44 trillion through March. That was 13.1% drop from last year’s first quarter, even though international public financing grew 15.4%.

For global structured finance, combined securitization and covered bond volumes totaled only $67 billion in March, bringing first-quarter issuance to just over $200 billion, down 18% year over year. New issuance of municipal bonds in the United States in March was only $95.5 billion, as continued low Treasury yields produced a favorable refinancing environment for most borrowers.

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S&P expects overall global issuance to decline about 2% this year, according to Diane Vazza, an S&P managing director and head of the firm’s global fixed income research. “Interest rate assumptions in the U.S. have been pared back, which should give a boost to speculative-grade issuers through the remainder of the year,” she wrote. “However, the decline of the previous three months is expected to weigh down global totals.”

S&P expects to see a continued “generally favorable” lending environment in Europe, and the European Central Bank’s continuing and evolving quantitative easing program should support stronger issuance moving forward.

“However, renewed provision of subsidized term funding for banks through additional targeted long-term refinancing operations puts potential downward pressure on banks’ debt issuance, which could slow covered bond and securitization sectors,” Vazza wrote.

Most regions within emerging markets are experiencing substantial stress from the continued decline in commodity prices, exchange rate pressures from a rising dollar, tighter lending conditions, and a rising share of nonperforming loans.

“One bright spot is China, which has seen increased issuance on the anticipated opening up of its debt markets to more foreign investors,” Vazza wrote.