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World’s Negative-Yield Debt Pile Has Just Hit a New Record

  •  $17 trillion of investment-grade debt now has sub-zero rates
  •  U.K. and Australian central banks expand bond-buying programs

The market value of the Bloomberg Barclays Global Negative Yielding Debt Index rose to $17.05 trillion on Thursday, the highest level ever recorded and narrowly eclipsing the $17.04 trillion it reached in August 2019.

Almost $600 billion of bonds have seen their yields turn negative this week, meaning 26% of the world’s investment-grade debt is now sub-zero. Thanks to the slew of global issuance in 2020 as governments and companies wrestle with the impact of the coronavirus, that remains below 30% peak reached last year.

Global supply of bonds with negative yields hits record $17 trillion

The borrowing binge has been mostly met with trillions of dollars of quantitative easing that suppress yields. Just this week, the Bank of England and Reserve Bank of Australia announced plans to expand their bond-buying programs, while the Federal Reserve discussed a shift.

For investors watching yields vanish, it’s become a dilemma: make riskier bets in order to boost income or accept lower returns.

“There are still return hurdles that investors will try to reach but that is not something you can get in a large share of fixed income products at this point,” said Richard Kelly, head of global strategy at Toronto-Dominion Bank. “This will drive a further push out the risk curve for investors, be that equities, credit, or long-end bonds.”

While much of the sub-zero debt pile is denominated in euros and yen, dashed expectations for a massive fiscal spending package under a unified Democratic government are also whittling down Treasury yields.

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French Bond Yields Slide Below Zero, Hit All Time Record Lows

French Bond Yields Slide Below Zero, Hit All Time Record Lows

Ten days ago when global bond yields tumbled amid renewed fears that the global economy was headed for a recession, we reported that a record $13 trillion in global sovereign debt was trading with a negative yield.

And while we don’t have the latest numbers from Bloomberg, pending their EOD update at the close, it is safe to say that as of this moment, there is a new all time high in negative yielding debt, because while German yields tumbled deeper into record negative territory this morning following abysmal global PMIs and comments from the ECB that the central bank was prepared for any contingency (i.e., ready to cut rates even more), it was the turn of France to follow Germany into sub-zero territory as the French 10Y yield just dropped below 0%, assuring that the total amount of negative-yielding debt just rose by a few hundred billion.

Meanwhile, the disconnect between global bonds – which are now screaming “recession is coming” – and global stocks which are partying as if the Fed can’t wait for S&P 3,000 to cut rates not by 25bps but 50bps, if not more, has never been greater.

Global Negative Yielding Debt Hits Record $12.3 Trillion

Global Negative Yielding Debt Hits Record $12.3 Trillion

Somewhere, SocGen’s permabearish strategist Albert Edwards is dancing a jig, as every day that passes bring us every closer to his trademark “Ice Age.”

One week after the universe of negative yielding debt regained its prior high of $11.7 trillion, overnight – thanks to the dovish capitulations by both the ECB and Fed – the notional value of global sovereign debt with a minus yield sign jumped to $12.3 trillion, a new all time high.Source: Bloomberg

The collapse in yields started on Tuesday morning when Mario Draghi said that the central bank might also trim rates and resume its bond-buying should inflation continue to languish well below its 2% target (recently European 5Y5Y forwards hit an all time low but have since rebounded following Draghi’s comments).

The dovish comments sent another jolt through fixed income markets and pushed another $714bn worth of bonds into sub-zero yield territory on Tuesday. The market value of bonds trading at negative yields — once thought to be economic lunacy — to a fresh record of $12.3TN, according to Bloomberg surpassing the last peak in 2016. The average yield of the global bond market is now just 1.76 per cent, down from 2.51 per cent in November last year.

Meanwhile, in another startling observation, Bank of America recently wrote that “highly-anticipated events in recent years (e.g. Shanghai G20, Brexit, Trump) have typically coincided with big unwinds of crowded positions; and “Japanification” rate theme max consensus.” As a result, the collapse in global inflation breakeven levels have taken global govt bond yields (ex. UST) to a new all-time low of 1.2%.

While the majority of core European and Japanese government bonds have been trading with negative yields since 2016, on Tuesday the Austrian, French and Swedish 10-year yields all slumped below zero for the first time. The 10Y German Bund yield stands at -0.32, an all time record low.

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