Lend to this German bank and you're guaranteed to lose money

Negative interest rates have burst out of the sovereign debt market and made their way over to bank bonds.

German mortgage lender Berlin Hyp issued €500 million of debt to yield minus 0.162%, becoming the first non-sovereign borrower to join the negative interest rate party, according to Bloomberg.

The debt was issued in the form of a covered bond, which gives creditors access to the underlying portfolio of the bank’s mortgages if the bank itself has trouble paying back the loan.

It’s a type of bond that’s seen as a safe bet and is popular among European investors, particularly in Denmark.

The bond matures in three years and doesn’t include any coupon payments.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for investors to avoid negative rates for so-called “safe assets” such as government debt.

Around 35% of Eurozone government debt yields less than zero and the German state bond has a negative yield out to a maturity of eight years.

And it doesn’t look like this will change any time soon. Berlin Hyp’s debt issue comes in the same week that the European Central Bank is expected to cut rates again, to minus 0.4%, a move aimed at reviving flagging inflation and a stagnant global economy.

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