The value of German bonds — considered a shelter from Europe’s debt storm during the last two years — has started to fall, now that investors sense a calming in other European waters.
On Wednesday the yield — or effective interest rate demanded by markets — on the benchmark 10-year German bond rose as high as 2.07 percent, an 18 percent increase from last week. Later in the day, it fell back somewhat, to 1.98 percent.
Because bond yields rise as their prices fall, that means investors holding them now feel proportionately poorer than they did last week. A lot of those holders are big European banks, which have enough problems already without having to worry about their bunds, as German bonds are known.
The spiking yields partly reflect a shift by hedge funds and asset managers into debt issued by countries like Italy and Spain. Those offer a much higher interest rate — but are evidently not considered quite as risky as they were just a few months ago, as Europe shows signs of having muddled through the worst of the crisis.
L'anno scorso la fuga verso il Bund, come rifugio dalle turbolenze dei tassi dei PIIGS, era stata impressionante e aveva nascosto le debolezze della Germania (non è un ossimoro: queste debolezze esistono, non sono di trascurabile entità e sono state messe in secondo piano dalla crisi del debito dei paesi periferici dell'eurozona):
As a sign of the bunds’ rising value on the open market last year, the yield on the 10-year bunds went from about 3.5 percent in April to as low as 1.67 percent in September. Now some of those gains are turning into losses.
Le debolezze tedesche non si limitano al fatto che nel caso siano necessari ulteriori salvataggi la Germania dovrà contribuire in modo sostanziale ai costi ma sono anche di tipo strutturale: l'economia tedesca forse è meno robusta di quanto non ci vogliano far credere:
But another reason for the yield surge may be that investors see potential weaknesses in Germany. If the crisis heats up again, as many analysts say it will, Germany is the country that would bear the greatest share of the cost. Its creditworthiness could then slip.
¶“Whenever there is a disbursement to a Greece program or a Portuguese program, Germany is on the hook for roughly one quarter of the bill,” said Mr. Weinberg of High Frequency Economics.
He is also skeptical about another premise for Germany’s status as a refuge from the financial crisis: that it has a robust economy. Mr. Weinberg noted that the German economy shrank in the last quarter of 2011, and that recent data shows a slowdown in orders to German manufacturers.
¶“Based on the numbers I see,” Mr. Weinberg said, “the notion that Germany is safe as an economy doesn’t hold any water.”
Standard and Poor's non ha perso tempo l'estate scorsa a togliere la tripla A agli USA: ma è davvero convinta che i Treasury Bonds siano più rischiosi del Bund?