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Indonesia’s Bonds Take a Hit: Understanding the Impact of State Debt Risks

Published by Elley
Edited: 3 weeks ago
Published: June 25, 2024

Indonesia’s Bonds Take a Hit: Unraveling the Implications of Rising State Debt Risks Indonesia’s sovereign bonds have been under pressure lately, with yields continuing to rise amid growing concerns over the country’s ballooning state debt. As of August 2021, Indonesia’s public debt stood at around 64.7% of its gross domestic

Indonesia's Bonds Take a Hit: Understanding the Impact of State Debt Risks

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Indonesia’s Bonds Take a Hit: Unraveling the Implications of Rising State Debt Risks

Indonesia’s sovereign bonds have been under pressure lately, with yields continuing to rise amid growing concerns over the country’s ballooning state debt. As of August 2021, Indonesia’s public debt stood at around 64.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP), marking a significant increase from the 58.3% recorded just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. This trend has raised red flags among investors, leading to a selloff in Indonesian bonds.

Causes of the Debt Build-Up

The primary reasons behind Indonesia’s rising debt levels are the government’s large budget deficits and increased borrowing to fund its response to the pandemic. In 2020, Indonesia recorded a budget deficit of around 6.4% of finance/economy/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>GDP

, up from a pre-pandemic deficit of just 1%. To finance this shortfall, the government turned to local and foreign bond markets. In total, Indonesia issued around IDR 704 trillion ($49 billion) worth of bonds last year.

Implications for Indonesia

Higher borrowing costs

The rising debt levels have led to a significant increase in Indonesia’s borrowing costs. Yields on the country’s 10-year bonds, for instance, surged from around 6.3% at the start of the year to above 8% by late August 202This trend is expected to continue, as investors demand higher yields to compensate for the increased risks associated with Indonesia’s debt.

Impact on the Indonesian Rupiah

Currency depreciation

Rising state debt also has implications for Indonesia’s currency, the rupiah. As investors become less confident in the country’s ability to service its debts, they may begin to sell their holdings of Indonesian assets, including bonds and rupiah-denominated stocks. This could lead to a further depreciation of the currency, making it more expensive for Indonesia to service its foreign debt and potentially fueling inflation.

What’s Next for Indonesia?

Fiscal consolidation

To address the growing debt concerns, Indonesia’s government has pledged to take steps to improve its fiscal position. This includes increasing revenue through tax reforms and reducing spending on non-essential items. The central bank, meanwhile, has hiked interest rates to support the rupiah and keep inflation in check.


Indonesia’s rising debt levels have caused a selloff in the country’s bonds, with yields continuing to surge and borrowing costs increasing. This trend has implications for Indonesia’s currency, inflation, and economic growth. To address these concerns, the government has pledged to take steps to improve its fiscal position, while the central bank has hiked interest rates to support the rupiah. Whether these measures will be enough to restore confidence in Indonesia’s debt remains to be seen.


Indonesia’s Rising State Debt Risks: Implications and Causes


Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has been a significant emerging economy with a rapidly growing middle class and an average annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of around 5%. However, recent bond market turbulence, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn, has put a damper on investor confidence in the Southeast Asian nation.

Bond Market Turbulence:

In late 2020, Indonesia’s sovereign bonds experienced their worst selloff since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The yield on its 10-year bonds reached a record high of over 8%, up from around 6% at the beginning of the year. This was due to several factors, including uncertainty surrounding the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its growing state debt.

Impact on Investor Confidence:

The bond market turbulence has affected investor confidence, leading to a decrease in foreign investment and an increase in borrowing costs for the Indonesian government. This, in turn, could limit the government’s ability to fund its budget deficit and implement much-needed economic reforms.

Understanding the Causes and Implications:

It is crucial to understand the causes and implications of Indonesia’s rising state debt risks. Factors contributing to this trend include a widening budget deficit, large infrastructure spending, and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paragraph will explore each of these factors in detail.

Indonesia’s Economic Growth and Debt: A Decade of Expansion and Challenges


Indonesia’s economic growth over the past decade has been impressive, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expansion averaging around 5% per year. This growth trajectory has led to significant poverty reduction, with the number of people living below the national poverty line decreasing from 11.3% in 2010 to 9.8% in 2019. The government‘s role in fueling this growth

Description of Indonesia’s economic growth over the past decade

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expansion and poverty reduction: The Indonesian government has invested in infrastructure projects, education, and social programs to support economic growth. These efforts have contributed to an average annual GDP growth rate of 5%. This expansion has led to a decrease in poverty levels, as more people have been able to access jobs and improved living standards.

Explanation of how the Indonesian government financed its spending over the years

Increased reliance on external and domestic borrowing: To finance its spending on infrastructure, education, and social programs, the Indonesian government has increasingly turned to borrowing, both domestically and externally. Domestic borrowing is through issuing bonds, while external borrowing comes from multilateral and bilateral lenders, as well as commercial banks.

Impact of lower commodity prices on Indonesia’s revenue:

However, the Indonesian economy has been adversely affected by the decrease in commodity prices since 201Indonesia is a major exporter of commodities such as coal, palm oil, and natural gas. Lower commodity prices have led to a decline in government revenue, making it more challenging for the government to finance its spending without increasing debt levels.

Discussion of Indonesia’s debt-to-GDP ratio and its implications for creditworthiness

Debt-to-GDP ratio: Indonesia’s debt-to-GDP ratio has been increasing, reaching 34% in 2019 compared to 25% in 2010. This trend is a concern for investors and credit rating agencies, as a higher debt-to-GDP ratio can negatively impact creditworthiness.

I Recent Developments

Recently, Indonesia‘s state debt risks have been on the rise, prompting concerns among investors and financial analysts. This situation can be attributed to several factors:

Factors Contributing to Rising State Debt Risks in Indonesia

Widening Budget Deficits: One significant contributor to Indonesia’s increasing state debt risks is the persistent widening of its budget deficit. Despite efforts to contain expenditures and boost revenue, the country has struggled to balance its books due to large subsidies for fuel and other essential goods, as well as infrastructure development spending.

Structural Issues:

Structural issues, such as weak infrastructure and education systems, also pose challenges to Indonesia’s economic growth and debt sustainability. Inadequate infrastructure can hinder investment and productivity growth, while a subpar education system may limit the labor force’s skills and adaptability in the face of technological change.

Role of International Investors in Indonesia’s Bond Market

International investors have played a crucial role in Indonesia’s bond market, driven by various reasons:

Reasons for Their Interest:

First, Indonesia’s economic growth story has been compelling, with the country boasting one of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, its large population and demographic trends suggest significant untapped potential for future growth.

Their Response to Rising State Debt Risks:

However, as state debt risks in Indonesia have escalated, international investors have started to reassess their holdings of Indonesian bonds. Some may have sold off their positions or reduced their exposure, leading to a decrease in demand for these securities and upward pressure on yields.

Impact on Indonesia’s Bond Yields and the Rupiah Currency

The impact of rising state debt risks on Indonesia’s bond yields and the rupiah currency has been significant:

Bond Yields:

As international investors have become more risk-averse, Indonesian bond yields have risen sharply. This trend can make it more expensive for the government to borrow in the international markets, potentially straining its fiscal position further.

Rupiah Currency:

Additionally, the rising state debt risks have weighed on investor confidence in the rupiah currency. This can lead to capital outflows and depreciation of the local currency, making it more expensive for Indonesia to import essential goods and services.


Implications for Investors and Stakeholders

Discussion of Potential Consequences for Indonesian Businesses and Consumers

The rising interest rates in the United States, which is the world’s largest economy, have significant implications for Indonesian businesses and consumers. Let us delve deeper into these consequences.

Impact on Borrowing Costs and Economic Growth

The higher interest rates in the US mean that capital flows to the United States, causing an outflow of funds from emerging markets like Indonesia. This leads to a strengthening US dollar and a weakening Indonesian rupiah. For Indonesian businesses, this means higher borrowing costs due to the depreciation of their currency against the US dollar. Consequently, economic growth may be negatively affected as businesses face increased financing costs and reduced profitability.

Effects on Investor Sentiment and Foreign Direct Investment

The depreciation of the Indonesian rupiah and rising interest rates can also impact investor sentiment towards Indonesian assets. Foreign investors may become risk-averse, leading to a decline in foreign direct investment (FDI). This can hinder the growth and development of Indonesian industries that rely on external financing.

Analysis of Implications for Global Investors and Emerging Market Assets as a Whole

The impact of US interest rates on Indonesia is not an isolated event. It has far-reaching implications for global investors and emerging market assets as a whole.

Role of Indonesia in Diversified Portfolios

Indonesia, as a large and rapidly developing economy, plays an essential role in diversified investment portfolios. However, with rising interest rates in the US, emerging market assets, including Indonesian ones, may face increased volatility and risk. This can lead to a reallocation of funds from emerging markets to developed economies, causing potential losses for investors.

Interplay with Other Emerging Economies Facing Similar Challenges

The challenges faced by Indonesia due to US interest rates are not unique. Other emerging economies, such as India and Turkey, are also experiencing similar issues. This interplay of factors can lead to increased market turbulence and uncertainty, potentially impacting the global economic landscape as a whole.

Insight into Possible Policy Responses by the Indonesian Government and Central Bank

To mitigate the negative impacts of US interest rates on Indonesia, the government and central bank may consider implementing certain policy responses. These could include:

Monetary Policy

The central bank can raise interest rates to stabilize the Indonesian rupiah and curb inflation. However, this could further increase borrowing costs for businesses and potentially stifle economic growth.

Fiscal Policy

The government can implement fiscal policies, such as tax incentives or subsidies, to stimulate economic activity and attract foreign investment. This could help offset the negative effects of rising interest rates and a weaker currency.



Indonesia’s rising state debt risks have emerged as a significant concern for global investors and stakeholders. Three main causes have contributed to this development: first, the government’s expansionary fiscal policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; second, the decline in exports and investment due to global economic headwinds; and third, structural issues such as low productivity growth and an unsustainable fiscal deficit.

Implications of Indonesia’s Rising State Debt Risks

The implications of these developments are far-reaching. Indonesia’s high debt levels increase the country’s vulnerability to external shocks and may lead to higher borrowing costs, currency depreciation, and reduced economic growth. Moreover, the government’s debt burden may crowd out private sector investment and undermine fiscal sustainability over the long term.

Importance of Monitoring Indonesia’s State Debt Risks

These developments must be closely monitored in the context of global economic trends. The ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions, and changing monetary policies all pose significant challenges to emerging markets like Indonesia. A failure to address the root causes of Indonesia’s rising debt risks could have serious consequences for both the domestic economy and global financial markets.

Call to Action

Therefore, it is essential that investors and other stakeholders engage with experts, research, and reliable sources for ongoing analysis on this topic. By staying informed about the latest developments in Indonesia’s debt market, investors can better assess risk and opportunities, while stakeholders can contribute to a more robust public discourse on this critical issue. Let us work together to ensure that Indonesia’s state debt risks are addressed in a transparent and responsible manner, ultimately benefiting the country’s economy and its people.

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June 25, 2024