USISPF Briefing on Emerging Markets Credit Outlook by Moody’s
On May 12, Rahul Ghosh, Senior Vice President of Global Emerging Markets, Credit Strategy & Research, at Moody’s, joined USISPF members on a webinar to share high-level views on the credit outlook of emerging markets.
Overall, Mr. Ghosh highlighted that the pandemic’s economic and financial fallout will heighten credit risks for emerging market issuers. While external and fiscal buffers vary across regions, low-rated sovereigns with large external repayments are most vulnerable to prolonged stress. Additionally, the fallout from the pandemic will increase the corporate default rate in emerging markets over the coming year. Finally, he noted that future challenges, as the world recovers from COVID-19, include lower rates and higher government debt, changing consumer habits, climate risks, protectionism, tech disruption, and income inequality.
His presentation focused on emerging markets more broadly, but during the Q&A session with USISPF members, Mr. Ghosh evaluated India’s ongoing fiscal response to the economic impact of COVID-19, including the RBI’s measures to increase liquidity, as well as some proposed or hypothetical steps the Government of India could take in the future. He also provided his insight on the impact the current global economic challenges could have on India’s banking and non-banking financial company (NBFC) sectors.
USISPF Briefing with USAID
On May 5, Javier Piedra, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Asia, USAID, and Ramona El Hamzaoui, Deputy Mission Director for India, USAID, joined USISPF members on a webinar to discuss USAID’s COVID-19 response in India. Other colleagues from USAID were also on the webinar including Public Health Program Specialist Sangita Patel and Nahel Sanghavi, Senior Advisor for Innovation & Partnership, to share insights into efforts related to their specific expertise.
Javier Piedra began the discussion by highlighting that, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed more than $775 million to aid in more than 120 countries. In India, he pointed to the importance of addressing ‘second order effects’ of COVID-19, such as supply chain issues, as well as its immediate impact.
Ms. El Hamzaoui spoke on shift in USAID’s relationship with India, highlighting the agency’s current partnership-based initiatives to support not just India’s development but India’s role in the region and globally. So far, to address COVID-19 in India, USAID has provided $6 million in aid to support the Government of India’s response efforts. Interagency teams have supported initiatives ranging from helping female textile workers shift to mask production to training health care workers in contact tracing. USAID has also been assisting with initiatives to ensure that other health issues are not ignored during the COVID-19 crisis, from developing an app to support mother and infant health to facilitating the export of vital HIV/AIDS medication from India to Laos.
During a Q&A period with USISPF members moderated by USISPF Senior Advisor Vikram J. Singh, Ms. El Hamzaoui, Mr. Piedra, Ms. Patel, and Mr. Sanghavi spoke on topics ranging from India’s health care infrastructure and medical supply and pharmaceutical industries, to innovative solutions from the Indian technology sector and the CSR contributions of private-sector partners.
USISPF Briefing with Mugdha Sinha, Secretary (Science & Technology), Government of Rajasthan
On May 5, Mugdha Sinha, Secretary of Science & Technology for the Government of Rajasthan, joined USISPF members through USISPF’s ongoing webinar series. In a discussion moderated by USISPF Chief Operating Officer Gaurav Verma, Ms. Sinha spoke on the Government of Rajasthan’s COVID-19 response and relief efforts, and the role that technology has played in this response.
Speaking on the Government of Rajasthan’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Ms. Sinha highlighted the proactive creation of two committees shortly after the first lockdown was announced, to address the needs of people from other states stranded in Rajasthan during the lockdown and to develop a post-COVID-19 economic strategy. Now that the lockdown is in its third stage, relaxing restrictions on movements in some district and allowing businesses and factories to resume activities, the Government of Rajasthan is now working to help people from Rajasthan who have been stranded elsewhere, domestically or abroad. Ms. Sinha identified new challenges related to these efforts, such as screening and quarantine measures to prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19 and increased demand for rural jobs as migrant workers return to their homes, but highlighted that so far, Rajasthan’s containment efforts have been efficient, effective, and proactive. She also highlighted that these efforts have been calibrated to save lives without risking livelihoods.
In terms of how Rajasthan has leveraged technology in its COVID-19 response, Ms. Sinha noted that ‘e-governance’ measures were already in place prior to the lockdown, which eased the transition to working from home for government officials. As well as contact tracing apps and processes virtually connecting the Government of Rajasthan to its constituents, the state has leveraged technological solutions to continue providing public access to cultural activities such as museums, which also provides continued employment to artists and artisans.