Fletcher in the News

Crisis Puts Sovereign Funds Under Pressure Crisis to Keep Assets Liquid: SovereigNet's Patrick Schena Comments

Reuters

Caught in an emerging market storm, some resource-rich states may keep more windfall income in liquid assets, ready to aid their economies, rather than locked up in strategic investment for future generations.

Kazakhstan's move last week to dip into its National Fund to slash banks' bad loans and - to some extent - Russia's plan to tap into its wealth fund to bail out Ukraine reduce a potential pool of funds that otherwise could have been invested in capital-heavy projects such as infrastructure.

It also raises concerns that the investment mandates of such funds are still subject to political interference.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered officials last week to use $5.4 billion from the National Fund, the country's strategic oil reserve, to help banks. 

Russia said it would tap $10 billion from the National Welfare Fund, intended to support the domestic pension system, as part of a $15 billion bailout programme for Ukraine.

Ukraine was not even on the list of countries the fund was allowed to invest in because its debt was rated below the threshold level. But the government quickly added an exemption to the rules, allowing the aid to be shipped to Kiev.

"Some of these concerns are beginning to be raised about flows out of emerging markets. It's inevitable there's a lot of political pressure for funds to be used domestically," said Patrick Schena, co-head of the Network for Sovereign Wealth and Global Capital at Fletcher School, Tufts University.

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