Shock waves have been rumbling through the global bond market in the last few days. On April 17 the yield on the 10-year German bund pierced through the 5bps level, but yesterday it tagged 100bps. That amounted to a 20X move in 39 trading days.
It also amounted to total annihilation if you were front running Mario Draghi’s bond buying campaign on 95% repo leverage and didn’t hit the sell button fast enough. And there were a lot of sell buttons to hit. The Italian 10-year yield has soared from a low of 1.03% in late March to 2.21% last night, and the yield on the Spanish bond has doubled in a similar manner.
Needless to say, this is not by way of a lamentation in behalf of the euro-bond speculators who have had their heads handed to them in recent days. After harvesting hundreds of billions of windfall gains since Draghi’s mid-2012 “whatever it takes ukase” they were overdue to get slapped around good and hard.
Instead, what we have here is just one more striking demonstration that financial markets are utterly broken. The notion of honest price discovery might as well be relegated to the museum of financial history.
The exact catalyst for yesterday’s panicked global bond sell-off, apparently, was Draghi’s public confession that although the ECB would stay the course on its $1.3 trillion QE program, it cannot prevent short-run “volatility” in the trading pits.
Why that should be a surprise to anyone is hard to fathom, but it does crystalize the “look ma, no hands” essence of today’s markets. The trading herd goes in the direction enabled by the central banks until a few dare devils finally fall off their bikes, causing an unexpected pile-up and inducing the pack to temporarily reverse direction.
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