Archive for the ‘Bond market’ Category
America’s ability to issue debt is helped by a resemblance between Treasuries and money
Mar 10th 2012 | from the print edition
Nov 11th 2011, 16:51 by G.I. | WASHINGTON
ASK any pundit why Italy is in crisis and they will mention some combination of Silvio Berlusconi, a towering national debt, and a moribund economy. The explanation resonates since all three have undeniably been enormous negatives for Italy. Today’s market action seems to vindicate the reasoning: with the prospect of a new government under Mario Monti and speedy implementation of a new budget, Italian bond yields have plummeted below 7%, and stocks around the world have rallied.
But these factors are not the root cause of the crisis and as long as Europeans behave as if they are, a resolution will elude them.
Italy has been burdened by Mr Berlusconi, a large national debt and a moribund economy for most of the past decade. As Daniel Gros points out, some of Italy’s key fundamentals—investment, R&D, educational attainment—have actually improved relative to Germany in that time. Yes, its debt remains a problem but, unlike Greece, it did not suddenly spiral out of control and was not, as far as we know, systematically underreported. As recently as 2009 Italy’s debt was 97% of GDP (it’s 100% now) and its deficit was 5% (compared to 4% this year, according to the IMF). Yet that year Italy could borrow at 4%, not much more than Germany, whereas now it must borrow at 6-7%, triple what Germany pays.
What changed is not Italy’s political or economic fundamentals but how investors perceive Italian debt. Read the rest of this entry »
May 16th 2011, 20:26 by G.I. | WASHINGTON
TODAY, Treasury reached its debt ceiling and began emergency manoeuvres to gain a few months before running out of borrowing room. Most everyone agrees that failure to raise the debt ceiling before that happens would be a calamity. Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, has just warned for the umpteenth time that it would lead to “ catastrophic far-reaching damage”, sending interest rates skyrocketing and unleashing chaos on the American economy and the financial system. Read the rest of this entry »
S&P’s bombshell means more politically than economically
Apr 20th 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition
SCEPTICS have wondered how long America could use its control of the world’s reserve currency as an excuse to rack up huge debts. Now they may have their answer. On April 18th Standard & Poor’s (S&P), a credit-rating agency, said it had lowered the outlook for America’s AAA credit rating, the highest, to negative.
“Quantitative easing” is unloved and unappreciated—but it is working
Nov 4th 2010 | WASHINGTON, DC
[Greg Ip] EVEN before the Federal Reserve unveiled its second round of quantitative easing (QE) on November 3rd, critics had already denounced it as ineffectual or an invitation to inflation. It cannot be both and it may not be either.
The announcement of “QE2” was hardly breathtaking. The Fed said it will buy $600 billion of Treasuries between now and next June, at about $75 billion a month, although it also said it could adjust the amount and timing if need be. That was about what markets expected but far less than the $1.75 trillion of debt it bought between early 2009 and early 2010 in its first round of QE. Yet QE2 seems already to have exceeded the low expectations it has aroused. Since Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, hinted at it at Jackson Hole on August 27th, markets have all done exactly what they should (see chart).
The original article is linked here.
[Greg Ip] WHEN financial turmoil threatened to engulf Ireland last month, the government took an unusual step: it scrapped bond auctions for the rest of the year. The move was possible because the country has enough cash to last until next May.
Over the past two years Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which manages the state’s debt, has maintained a cash cushion of €20 billion ($27.7 billion), equivalent to 12% of GDP. It did the bulk of its borrowing through long-term bond auctions, resulting in a relatively long average maturity for the national debt. The IMF reckons that next year Ireland must finance the rich world’s largest budget deficit as a share of GDP. But it needs to refinance only a modest amount of maturing debt (see chart). In contrast, huge refinancing needs helped drive Greece into the arms of the fund and of its euro-zone peers in May.
The entire article is linked here.
[Greg Ip] WHEN Japan slid into deflation in the mid-1990s bond investors were caught unawares. As late as 1995 yields on government bonds, a haven in times of deflation, were still approaching 5%. Investors today are not about to repeat that mistake. Inflation may be positive in America, Britain and Germany, but in all three countries government-bond yields have plunged to lows exceeded in recent times only by levels during the 2008 panic. Read the rest of this entry »