Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that the recent bond issue proved Hungary could stand on its own two feet and did not need the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"People have a tremendous amount of confidence in the Hungarian economy," he told public radio.
When Hungary sold two billion U.S. dollars in 10-year government bonds and 1.25 billion dollars in five-year bonds on the open market earlier this week for an overall sale of 3.25 billion dollars in its first sale of foreign bonds in 21 months, the country basically acknowledged that its credit-line negotiations with the IMF had failed to bear fruit.The bonds, offering yields of 5.4 percent on the 10-year bonds and 4.2 percent on the five-year notes, were more costly than an IMF loan would have been, at around 2.5 percent, but Hungary would not have received any money at all from the IMF if it stuck to its current economic policy.
The IMF has charged Hungary with interfering in the independence of the central bank and has objected to measures taken by the Orban-led government to reduce the national debt and cut the deficit including nationalization of privately managed pension funds, special taxes levied on banks, telecommunications and energy companies and its forcing lenders to take losses on foreign currency loans issued to the public, which the IMF demanded be undone as loan conditions.
Meanwhile, a high level of global liquidity and investor interest in higher-yield securities managed to counteract Hungary's junk-bond status with all three major ratings agencies, triggering demand for the bonds that was significantly in excess of the amount available.
The 3.25 billion dollars obtained through the sale will be sufficient to service all of Hungary's debts through 2013 and possibly into the beginning of 2014, so it refrained from selling more than that amount.
Analysts have said that Hungary picked the perfect moment to come forward with the bond sale given high investor liquidity and low yields on more stable securities.
They warn, however, that investors are fickle and will pull out at the first signs of trouble, "which could lead to a punitive market response," according to a Moody's statement.
The IMF's permanent representative in Budapest Iryna Ivaschenko also warned that Hungary was "susceptible to sudden changes in investor sentiment."