Non-US firms issue dollar bonds because of their business needs or to benefit from potential funding opportunities (lower funding costs). Firms with dollar revenues or long-term assets need to issue dollar-denominated debt to hedge their exchange rate exposures. Also, the strong demand for assets denominated in dollars after the Great Financial Crisis created favourable market conditions for non-US firms that sought to issue dollar bonds.
In this paper, we explore how firms respond to dollar funding opportunities depending on their specific characteristics using a novel data set at the firm level. Our major contribution is to analyse whether firms’ response to cost-saving opportunities is influenced by two crucial characteristics: their asset-side exposures to the dollar and their credit risk.
We find that firms increase their dollar borrowings when the corporate basis (the relative cost of local to synthetic currency borrowing) widens. However, not all firms increase dollar borrowing alike. Firms with very strong credit ratings issue more dollar bonds especially when dollar funding opportunities appear, exploiting the fact that they can offer investors close substitutes for safe dollar assets. Firms with higher dollar revenues or more long-term assets in dollars do not react to changes in dollar funding costs, although their share of dollar borrowing always remains high due to their operational needs for dollar funding. Altogether, the composition of dollar borrowers shifts when the corporate basis widens, as high-grade firms gain importance, relative to firms with operational needs.
The full paper is available at https://www.bis.org/publ/work843.pdf