Dollar Dominance in Cross-border Bank Loans and Its Response to Uncertainties

Author Name ITO Hiroyuki (Visiting Fellow, RIETI) / XU Ying (Australian National University)
Creation Date/NO. April 2023 23-E-028
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This paper examines whether, and if so, to what extent uncertainty increases the degree of the use of U.S. dollars in cross-country loans. To this end, we investigate what factors affect the choice of currency for denomination of cross-border syndicated loans. Among them, we focus on whether external shocks and global uncertainties, such as uncertainty stemming from U.S. monetary, fiscal, and trade policies, financial instability (measured by VIX), and infectious disease risk affect the choice of international loans. The analysis uses micro firm-level data on syndicated loans agreed between borrowers located in 25 emerging market economies (EMEs) and lenders from 59, from the 1995 to 2019 period. We find that uncertainties driven by U.S. trade policy led to a higher USD share in total international loans from the borrowers’ perspective, indicating the borrowers’ inclination to avert the exchange rate risk or volatility that may arise due to the uncertainty of U.S. trade policy. A rise in the general level of U.S. economic policy and the intensity of financial instability both have a negative impact on the USD share, likely reflecting dollar shortages at the time of increasing economic policy uncertainty and financial instability. The estimation on the currency shares from the lenders’ perspective also confirms these impacts on U.S. economic uncertainties and financial instability. We also test the correlation between currency choice for international loans and the borrowers’ revenue volatility, and find that syndicated loans in the local currency are associated with less revenue volatility compared to USD-denominated loans.