Foreign Investors Are to Blame for Indonesia ETFs' Sudden Fall

Indonesia’s markets and country-specific ETFs have been among the worst performers in the emerging markets category as foreign investors pull capital out of the country.

The iShares MSCI Indonesia ETF (NYSEArca: EIDO) declined 13.6% and Market Vectors Indonesia Index ETF (NYSEArca: IDX) decreased 12.4% year-to-date.

The Indonesian equity market has slipped more than 8% in two weeks while the rupiah currency depreciated 1.4% since mid-April as global investors yanked funds from emerging markets, the Wall Street Journal reports. Overseas investors hold around 40% of all Indonesian local-currency government bonds, compared to 18% a decade ago, making this emerging market one of the most sensitive to global changes.

“Foreign ownership in government bonds is positive because it shows foreigners’ confidence on our economic fundamentals,” Luky Alfirman, director-general of financing and risk management at Indonesia’s Finance Ministry, told the WSJ. “But it also creates risk of vulnerability. Because of that, the government’s focus is on how to mitigate the risk.”

The sell-off is partially attributed to the ripple effects from Indonesia’s local-currency debt market, which up until recently has benefited from investors’ search for yield in a low-yield environment.