Key Determinants Liquidity In Malaysian Corporate Bond Market Finance Essay

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Corporate bond liquidity seems to be at the center of debate in large developed countries by many scholars, practitioners and authorities as they recognized the importance and the need of liquid bond market and its role in enhancing the market’s resilience during the time of financial stress. Due to that, bond market growth often being as an underlying point by those scholars, practitioners and authorities to ensure countries can promise a liquid bond market and help them to become resilient from the financial attack significantly. Even after several initiatives given to boost up the growth of bond market but the lack of bond market liquidity still remains as major obstacle in few countries (Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005).

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Looking at a small developing country like Malaysia, the growth of the Malaysian bond can be traced back in 1970s, when the government started issuing bonds to meet the massive funding needed to boost up the country’s development. It is a crystal clear of how in 1980s, a corporate sector was heavily reliant on finance from banks as main source of funding. However, a great financial crisis in 1997 has given a major lesson not to really relying with only one source. Thus, it has led to an aggressive intention given to Malaysian bond market when corporate sector is now giving an aggressive initiative in increasing the Malaysian bond issuance as another source of funding. In a mean time, initiatives from the authorities also help the continuation of grow for Malaysian bond market. The initiative can be deeply felt when Securities Commission was established in March 1993 that act as a single regulatory body to promote the development of capital market. Prior to the establishment of Securities Commission, a set of guidelines for private debt securities also introduced. Other authorities introduced are known as the Rating Agency Malaysia Berhad (RAM) and Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad (MARC) in 1990 and 1995 respectively that mainly aim at providing independent opinions for potential risk of debt issuers. In addition, the establishment of Bond Dealers Association in 1996 to promote bond market has shown another initiative taken to enhance the development of Malaysian bond market. In 1997, the introduction of Bond Information and Dissemination System (BIDS) that replaced to Electronic Trading Platform (ETP) has mainly functions to facilitate efficient trading and promote transparency of information related to domestic debt securities. Those establishments are fundamentally aimed at helping the development and liquidity of Malaysian bond market. Reviewing back at those establishments and initiatives, there is no surprise to see a tremendous growth of bond market in Malaysia but a lack of market liquidity (Shimizu, 2008) still continuously being at top of the topic interest. Therefore, for that reason, there are purposes of aggressively highlighting this issue to promote sufficient liquidity in bond market and help one’ country to be resilient from financial attack. Briefly, corporate bond liquidity often measured by volume of trading, trade frequency and turnover ratio (Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull 2005, Bao 2009 and Mahanti et. al 2008). Samples of few other studies indicate that corporate bond liquidity had mainly connected with the spread of bid-ask. As emphasized by Chan et al, 2007, they have measured liquidity using volume of corporate bond traded and bid ask spread and briefly, they suggested that the higher the volume of trading and the spread of bid ask, the liquid the bond will be. Therefore for the purpose of this study, it intends to look on the determinants that might possibly affect the liquidity of bond market as it will draw upon the result of this analysis to find ways to improve liquidity and in mean time open up gate for government to set up actions and recommendation to ensure that the liquidity market can be achieved.


Though, massive initiatives generated by the Malaysian government with several rules regulated, studies of corporate bond liquidity often centered in US market and other developed countries only (Chan et al, 2007). This phenomenon is seen as rare to be extensionally studied in small developing countries like Malaysia. Therefore, this study seeks to fill the gap of previous unexploited data and limitation and yet it aims to transfer our focus to thoroughly understand and examine the pattern of corporate bond liquidity in Malaysia and mean while investigate key determinants that might be possibly affect the liquidity of our corporate bond issuance. In a mean time, despite intensive initiatives given by government in promoting an infinite development of bond market, low liquidity in Malaysian bond market still be a serious problem and must be improved (Shimizu, 2008). He added that under the active easing of regulation, bond market have been growing continuously but surprised to see that the liquidity level is low. His argument has supported by the facts as shown below. Chart 1: Trading volume for Malaysian corporate bond. Source: (Asian Bond Online, 2010) If zoom in at one of the said measurements of corporate bond liquidity which is trading volume, it is clear (chart 1) where trading volume for corporate bond has shown a steady declining pattern since last June 2004 until December 2009. Closely zoom at the graph will show us that Malaysian corporate bond reached USD14.93 billion of trading volume in June 2004 but later it has experienced a steady drop to USD3.26 billion of trading volume in March 2009. Only a few months later it has recorded slight increase in trading by USD 4.33 billion in last December (Asian Bond Online, 2010). As Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005 and Chan et al, 2007 suggested that trading volume of corporate bond issuing plays a positive correlation in determining the liquidity of corporate bond; obviously based on the statistic given, it could safely write down here that our corporate bond market is getting illiquid. Perhaps, there may be some arguments and factors could be placed in to describe this situation of less volume of trading corporate bond traded in Malaysian bond market which this can be thoroughly studied. Chart 2: Bid Ask spread for Malaysian corporate bond. Source: (Asian Bond Online, 2010) As explained at the previous, bid Ask spread is said as another measure used to estimate the liquidity of corporate bond and it is suggested that if the spread of bid ask is getting larger, it shows that the liquidity is going to be higher (Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005). Based on the chart (chart 2), it is a crystal clear that the liquidity of corporate bond is getting illiquid starting from 2004 to 2009. A study by Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005, indicates that lack of liquidity has made investors reluctant to trade bonds actively, with a large number of market players prefers holding government bonds to maturity instead of buying and selling it out actively. Therefore, this could be another point to develop a study to see factors that could possibly affect the liquidity of Malaysian corporate bond issuance. Despite proposing current trend of trading volume and bid ask spread of Malaysian corporate bond, many several important points could be noted down to explain why Malaysian bond market is important to be studied. There are several interesting points could be highlighted as described by Chan et al, 2007. First, though Malaysian bond market is said as small but it diverse with the capitalization of the ringgit corporate bond market was only $60 billion at end of 2006. Chan et al, 2007 added that often one bond market will be more liquid with the help of its sophisticated infrastructure and how fast is the growth and development on that market. In terms of the heterogeneity of instruments and sophisticated instruments, Malaysia seems to be at top compare with other small developing countries and some of the develop countries. This makes Malaysia as a significant test case to examine whether those play significant roles in determining the liquidity of Malaysian bond market by studying its key determinants. Next, two corporate bond market exists in Malaysia; Islamic and conventional instrument. Liquidity tends to concentrate in certain instruments and therefore such market fragmentation can have a detrimental impact on liquidity. At the same time, the growth of the Islamic bond market has the potential to increase the diversity of the investor base and thereby boost trading activity (Chan et al, 2007) and it is unclear which development will dominate. Due to that, it is relevant to understand the liquidity of corporate bond market specifically aim at Malaysia bond market. Therefore, this study is interested in to find out as to whether the shopisticated instruments and massive initiatives generated by Malaysian government determine the liquidity of corporate bond and mean time investigate several key determinants that could possibly affect the liquidity of corporate bond in Malaysia.


1.2.1 To examine factors that could possibly affect the liquidity of corporate bond in Malaysia 1.2.2 To determine the key determinants of corporate bond liquidity in Malaysia. 1.2.3 To explore the reasons of limited use of corporate bond in Malaysia.


This research is conducted with the aim to answer the research questions as follows: 1.3.1 What are the factors affect the liquidity of corporate bond in Malaysia? 1.3.2 What are the key determinants of corporate bond liquidity in Malaysia? 1.3.3 What are the reasons of the limited used of corporate bond in Malaysia?


This study attempts to analyze factors that determine the liquidity in corporate bond in Malaysia. This study intends to use the last five years period which starts from 2005 to 2009 to figure out factors which could possibly affect the liquidity of corporate bond in Malaysia for the said period. Basically, this study will center it’s focus only for these recent years as it is seen as could possibly help to understand better if macroeconomic event says global mortgage crisis in 2008 plays its impact in disturbing the liquidity of corporate bond specifically at Malaysian market. Four variables will be employed to conduct to study namely corporate bond liquidity, issuance size, risk and stock market performance.


By carrying out this study, it is hoped that the researcher could come to understand what factors could possibly affect the liquidity of corporate bond in Malaysia and how it affect the liquidity of this corporate bond. This paper also hopes to thoroughly study the trend of corporate bond liquidity in these recent five years. These anticipated findings could help the relevant bodies specifically to corporations and authorities to further understand the key determinants that could give an impact to the corporate bond liquidity as it important to be revealed for the purpose of setting up initiatives to ensure that the development and liquidity of corporate bond in Malaysia is always in line. The paper also considers what policy actions the government and central bank can take to ensure that these key determinants are achieved, providing recommendations for the authorities’ role in creating an environment which best facilitates a liquid in bond market. It is seem to be significant to corporations as they are the main players that can generate liquidity in bond market with their active trade. At the same time, from that understanding they could take appropriate measures in encouraging more trading in debt securities as it has proved as another source of funding which helps many countries to be resilience during the time of financial stress. (Corporations) The other minor benefits could potentially exist is from the literatures and secondary data gathered by this study could also help the related parties specifically future researchers as source of information and reference relating to the issue studied.


Since last couple of decades, corporate bond is seen as an alternative source of financing and even in Malaysia; corporate bond financing has become as important as bank lending (Shimizu, 2008). Fundamentally, corporate bond can be interchangeably known as private debt securities (PDB) and initially are issued by private and public corporations that mainly aim at raising funds for multiple types of purposes (Mahanti, 2008). Even in Malaysia, corporations have turned their attention towards the bond market as a viable alternative to bank borrowings and the equity market for the reason of business expansion and financial stability for the country significantly. This is where corporate bond market registered an annual growth of 8% since year 2000 and has reached the size of RM 209.7 billion as at early July 2007 (Bond Hub, 2010). As discussed earlier, despite experiencing tremendous efforts that has been put in by government to ensure infinite growth in bond market, bond market liquidity still being at the center of focus. This has been proved by a great deal of literature on why bond market liquidity is important and on the various determinants of liquidity (Mahanti, 2008 and Shimizu, 2008). Basically, bond liquidity is said as subjective according to how we measure the liquidity level of it (Houweling et. al, 2005). The definition of liquidity is depending on what measure every different people use on it as added by them. One common measure that often will be used to indicate the level of bond liquidity is bid ask spread. This is shown when Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005 have used bid ask spread to identifies and analyzes the key of liquidity in the Thai bond market. As what have been quoted by Edward, 2007 as cited by Bao et. Al, 2009.. ..” A simple measure of corporate bond liquidity is the effective bid-ask spread and the bid ask spread is seen as direct and an important indicator of bond liquidity”.. Despite using the bid ask spread, trading volume also has widely used by researchers. According to Chan et al, 2007, trading volume is suggested as closely related to depth of the market. In addition, as what concluded by Committee on the Global Financial System as excerpted by Chan et al, 2007.. ..”Liquidity has at least three dimensions; tightness, depth and resiliency. Tightness refers to trading cost, specifically how far transaction prices diverge from the mid market price. While depth refers to the volume of trades and resiliency refers to the speed”.. As suggested by Chako & Mahanti 2005, trading volume and bid ask spread are known as conventional measure of liquidity and have been widely used by many practitioners. They then suggested a new measure of bond liquidity which does not use transactional information; instead it uses information about the ownership of securities to measure the accessibility of security by a security dealer. This is called as latent liquidity. In other review, it is said that bond market liquidity may be reduced due to the lack of new bonds issued or in other words a lack of trading volume (Nielsan et. al, 2009). This is why some countries have required minimums for issuing bond because there are corporations which prefer to generate income through sources outside the bond market due to this lack as concluded by them. After several reviews has been made, variety of factors identified as determinants of bond liquidity. In a paper completed by Mahanti 2008, they have investigated bond liquidity by connecting it with credit rating, issue size, age, original maturity value at issue date and optionally such callability, putability or convertibility. As a result, they found that all have a strong impact on bond liquidity. Similarly, Chan et al, 2007 suggested that liquidity is commonly perceived to be positively correlated with the size of bond. The rational is that the supply potentially available for trading is greater for larger issues. In addition, a negative correlation is reported between liquidity and the riskiness of bond. This risk is known as a liquidity risk which can be proxied by using maturity and the credit quality of a bond can be captured using agencies of credit rating (Chan et. al, 2007). They do suggested market condition as one of the determinants that plays a role in determining bond liquidity. As again quoted by Chan et. al, 2007, they suggested that macroeconomic or financial conditions might lead to reduce their risk exposure, hence resulting in a deterioration in market liquidity. In their paper, they have taken stock index as determinant using daily indices. In addition to the above point, as what have been quoted by Bario (2000) as cited Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005.. ..”Macroeconomic factors may also play a role in determining market liquidity. However, points out that the factors determining liquidity or the degree significant can differ substantially during of market stress”..


Research Design

The study is relying on the secondary data and will be conducted by utilizing models and theories which adopted from previous studies. First, to examine the level of corporate bond liquidity, a standard approach will be employed. This model which is known as basic least square equation is adopted from a study done by Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005. Briefly, this model indicates that the liquidity is measured by utilizing daily bid ask spread, trading volume and yield volatility for corporate bond. An equation is shown as below: (Adopted from Panyanukul and Chabchitrchaidol, 2005) Once desired data are completely gathered and computed, it will then be analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) program. SPSS were chosen since it contains the tool for performing statistical analyses and provide comprehensive method for describing and tabulating on data for hypothesis testing and for multiple regression and correlation.

Theoretical Framework

Issuance size


Corporate Bond Liquidity

Kuala Lumpur Composite Index

Independent Variables Dependent Variable



Corporate bond liquidity Trading volume, Bid ask spread & Yield Volatility (Adapted from Chan et al, 2007, Chabchitrchaidol and Panyanukull, 2005 & by Bao et. A, 2009) Issuance size Size of bond issued (Adapted from Mahanti 2008 and Chan et. al, 2007) Risk Credit rating (Adapted from Chan et. al, 2007) Kuala Lumpur composite index FKLI (Adapted from Chan et. al, 2007)

3.3 Data Collection Method

Secondary Data This study will be much relying on the internal and external secondary data. As most of the data needed are published in the data based, it is hoped that it can help the researcher to run the analysis to answer those research questions. Initially, the internal data will be gathered from several medium identified namely Electronic Trading Platforms (ETP) which formerly known as Bond Information and dissemination System (BIDS), Bursa Malaysia, Asian Bond Online and other related data based. The data will be employed is a weekly observation data on bid ask spread , trading volume , FBM KLCI, size of bond issued and other related data. Briefly, the data based provides researcher with some desired data related to bond trading. Once data collection process is done and computation is done by employing previous applied measure, it will be analyzed using regression to see the significant correlation that could potentially exist between variables as described earlier. An external secondary data will be retrieved from articles, journal, reports, newspaper and other possible sources.

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