Buttonwood: Accentuate the negative

Posted: January 23, 2015 in economy
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UK Only Article: 
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America’s new aristocracy

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Why investors would opt to lose money

A GUARANTEED loss. That is what investing in bonds at negative yields implies: those who buy the bonds will get back less than they paid even after interest is taken into account (and some will have to pay tax on the income as well). Yet government bonds of various maturities in as many as ten countries are selling at negative yields. Why on earth would bond investors, the “masters of the universe” once famed for intimidating governments, be willing to accept such a lousy deal?
One obvious reason is fear, or at least caution. In the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, when the safety of the banks seemed in doubt, short-term Treasury bills offered negative yields and investors were happy to take them. (Holding physical cash is impractical, given the sums involved.) Now, with some uncertainty about what might happen to banks were Greece to leave the euro, investors may decide it is worth accepting a negative yield of 0.16% on …

via Economic Crisis http://ift.tt/1y2RddZ


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