Germany’s 10-year Bund yield fell below zero for the first time in history on Tuesday.
At around 8:30 a.m. BST (3:30 a.m. ET) the yield on the Eurozone’s benchmark government bond fell as low as -0.003% amid demand from investors.
That marked the first ever time the 10-year yield on one of Europe’s biggest sovereign debt vehicles has dropped below zero. It is part of a historical rally in the price of bonds as investors worldwide flee from risk and into the safety of government debt.
Since then it has recovered a little, and around 9:00 a.m. BST (4:00 a.m. ET) is above zero once again, trading at 0.001%. Bond yields move inversely to the price of the bond on the market. The more people want the bond, the higher the prices go, and the lower the yield. Here’s the chart of the German 10-year on Tuesday morning:
The 10-year Bund’s progression below zero is part of a historical rally in the price of bonds as investors worldwide flee from risk and into the safety of government debt.
Investors are rushing into the security as the British referendum vote on June 23 to stay or leave the EU approaches. And concerns about the economic and political risks of an “exit” vote are prompting the rush into a safe asset.
At the same time, record levels of bond buying by the ECB has been one of the key drivers of lower yields. The ECB is buying billions of euros worth of bonds every month in an attempt to spur lending, and boost stagnant inflation in the eurozone. It has faced criticism for doing so, with Deutsche Bank recently saying that the ECB is threatening the “existence of the European project.”
Bunds now join a growing club, including Japanese, and Swiss government debt, in having gone below zero.
Here’s a little from analysts at Rabobank, as first quoted by the Financial Times:
10yr Bund yields are moving relatively comfortably into negative territory, with such a development appearing probable as the countdown continues towards the UK’s June 23 referendum and hedging demand/ safe haven flow injects a further bid into core Europe. As it stands, our year end forecast for 10y Bund yields stands at -10bp and that of 30y 50bp. The risk to these projections is slanted toward the downside.