Business World

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Now even Greece is getting paid to borrow money

Greece, the one-time bond market pariah at the heart of Europe's sovereign debt crisis, has completed a transformative journey by joining the region's negative-yield club. (stock photo)
Greece, the one-time bond market pariah at the heart of Europe's sovereign debt crisis, has completed a transformative journey by joining the region's negative-yield club. (stock photo)

Michael Hunter

Greece, the one-time bond market pariah at the heart of Europe's sovereign debt crisis, has completed a transformative journey by joining the region's negative-yield club.

Investors are now paying for the privilege of lending it cash. A €487.5m auction of 13-week bills yesterday drew a yield of minus 0.02pc.

Greece joins the likes of Ireland, Italy and Spain in benefiting from the European Central Bank's supportive monetary policy, and in deepening fears of a global recession.

It marks a stark turnaround for the eurozone's most indebted member, which was forced to accept the biggest bond restructuring in history in March 2012 as Greece's membership of the currency came into doubt.

Now the region is grappling with an altogether different problem: the spread of negative yields, which reduces borrowing costs for governments but harms savers, pension funds and insurers. Jon Day, a fixed-income portfolio manager at Newton Investment Management, said the negative payout on short-term Greek debt reflected the "global grab for yield, especially in euro-denominated bonds".

"There remain substantial risks around Greece's financial position and it remains vulnerable to a significant economic slowdown," he said. "Current yields on their bonds do not reflect this risk."

Bloomberg

Also in Business