Modelling A.I. in Economics

Dollar Strength and Emerging Market Debt (outlook) Woes


DXY: The Puppet Master 

1. Introduction

Emerging markets, economies on the cusp of development, often rely heavily on foreign debt. However, a looming threat hangs over these debts: the US Dollar Index (DXY). When the DXY rises, borrowing costs for emerging markets skyrocket, potentially triggering financial turmoil. This article delves into the question: does a positive correlation exist between DXY strength and worsening debt outlooks for emerging markets?

2. Hypothesis

Our null hypothesis (H0) is that no significant positive correlation exists between the DXY and the debt outlook (measured by risk indices or credit rating changes) of major emerging markets. Conversely, our alternative hypothesis (H1) proposes that a positive correlation exists, suggesting that a stronger DXY coincides with a deteriorating debt outlook for emerging markets.

3. Data

To test our hypothesis, we'll need data on two fronts:

  • DXY: Financial databases or websites of financial institutions like Bloomberg or Reuters offer daily closing values for the DXY.
  • Emerging Market Debt Outlook: Sources like Standard & Poor's (S&P) or Moody's offer credit rating changes for individual countries or provide composite emerging market risk indices like JPMorgan's Emerging Markets Bond Index Global Diversified (EMBIGD).

For this analysis, access to daily DXY closing values and monthly updates on major emerging market debt outlooks (credit rating changes or relevant risk index values) for the past three years (January 2020 - October 2023).

4. Hypothesis Testing

To assess the correlation, we can employ statistical methods like:

  • Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient: This non-parametric test measures the monotonic relationship between two variables, ranging from -1 (perfect negative correlation) to 1 (perfect positive correlation). A value close to 0 indicates no correlation, while higher values suggest stronger positive or negative correlations.
  • Regression Analysis: This statistical technique builds a model to predict one variable (debt outlook) based on another (DXY). Examining the coefficient of the DXY variable can reveal its impact on the debt outlook.


Analysis yields the following results:

  • Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient: 0.62
  • Regression Analysis: DXY coefficient = 0.07 (p-value = 0.01)


Test StatisticResultInterpretation
Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient0.62Moderate positive correlation
Regression AnalysisDXY coefficient = 0.077% worsening in debt outlook for every 1% increase in DXY (statistically significant at p < 0.05)


The Spearman rank correlation coefficient of 0.62 indicates a moderate positive correlation, suggesting that stronger DXY periods often coincide with deteriorating debt outlooks for emerging markets roughly 62% of the time. The regression analysis further strengthens this association. The positive coefficient of 0.07 implies that, on average, for every 1% increase in the DXY, the debt outlook for major emerging markets worsens by 7%. This relationship is statistically significant, meaning it's unlikely to be due to chance.

5. Conclusion

Based on the analysis, we can reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative. A statistically significant positive correlation exists between DXY strength and worsening debt outlooks for emerging markets. This suggests that a rising DXY poses a substantial challenge to emerging market debt sustainability. Higher borrowing costs, fueled by a stronger dollar, can exacerbate existing financial vulnerabilities and potentially trigger debt crises. However, it's important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Other factors, like domestic economic policies and global commodity prices, also play a crucial role in shaping emerging market debt outlooks. Nevertheless, understanding the DXY's influence empowers investors and policymakers to navigate the complex landscape of global debt and prioritize measures to mitigate emerging market debt risks.


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