How ETFs Amplify the Global Financial Cycle in Emerging Markets

January 2018

Updated: September 2018

Tomas Williams, Nathan Converse, and Eduardo Levy-Yeyati.

IIEP Working Paper 2018-1

Abstract: Since the early 2000s exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have grown to become an important investment vehicle worldwide. In this paper, we study how their growth affects the sensitivity of international capital flows to the global financial cycle. We combine comprehensive fundlevel data on investor flows with a novel identification strategy that controls for unobservable time-varying economic conditions at the investment destination. For dedicated emerging market funds, we find that the sensitivity of investor flows to global financial conditions for equity (bond) ETFs is 2.5 (2.25) times higher than for equity (bond) mutual funds. In turn, we show that in countries where ETFs hold a larger share of financial assets, total cross-border equity flows and prices are significantly more sensitive to global financial conditions. We conclude that the growing role of ETFs as a channel for international capital flows amplifies the incidence of the global financial cycle in emerging markets.

JEL Classification: F32, G11, G15, G23

Keywords: exchange-traded funds; mutual funds; global financial cycle; global risk; push and pull factors; capital flows; emerging markets

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