here is no simple, painless solution. The world has to reduce debt, shrink the financial part of the economy, and change the destructive incentive structures in finance. Individuals in developed countries have to save more and spend less. Companies have to go back to real engineering. Governments have to balance their books better. Banking must become a mechanism for matching savers and borrowers, financing real things. Banks cannot be larger than nations, countries in themselves. Countries cannot rely on debt and speculation for prosperity. The world must live within its means.
~ Satyajit Das, Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk
There is now almost $16 trillion worth of sovereign debt trading with a negative yield. Last week the credit bubble entered new territory with two euro zone issuers of corporate debt, Germany’s Henkel and France’s Sanofi, becoming the first private firms to sell negative-yielding non-financial corporate bonds in euros. This may, just may, happen to mark the top of the great bond bull run that started as far back as the early 1980s. By Friday of last week, the implications of an ugly slide across bond and stock markets may have led some fund managers and traders to soil themselves, or suffer heart problems, or both. By a happy coincidence, however, Henkel makes Persil laundry detergent, and Sanofi makes treatments for cardiovascular disease. So any affected ‘investors’ dumb enough to have bought those guaranteed loss-makers and then suffered immediate regret don’t have to look too far for a remedy.
Doubts Emerge in Global Markets
‘Taper Tantrum II’ would appear to have arrived. The sell-off in bond markets last week was universal. US Treasuries, UK Gilts, German Bunds, Japanese JGBs, all declined. Japanese bonds are suffering more than most. Kevin Buckland, Wes Goodman and Shigeki Nozawa for Bloomberg report:
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Sept 24, 2016.