Piershale: How much lower will bonds go?
Government bonds, outside the Eurozone’s periphery, have been among the best performers over the last few years as investors have sought a safe haven. The volatility experienced by most stock markets has further bolstered the allure of government bonds.
A terrific column in the Financial Times, “Bond buyers should be mindful of history,” by Burton Malkiel, Princeton University professor emeritus of economics, says investors have been fleeing to “safety.” Ten-year U.S. Treasury yields fell to less than 1.5 percent in early June, a level not witnessed since 1946. German 10-year yields fell to an all-time low near 1 percent. Some very short-term Federal rates were negative, implying that investors were willing to pay financially stable governments for the privilege of holding their money. According to Malkiel, investors appear to be far more concerned with the “return of” rather than the “return on” their money.
Since 2008, investors have moved more than $1 trillion from equity to bond funds. Similar shifts from equities to bonds have characterized U.S. pension fund allocations. But, does this flight to so-called havens really provide investors with the protection they desire? Or, are bond buyers making a huge mistake that is likely to guarantee them a period of negative “real” (after-inflation) returns? The answer is almost certainly the latter. Malkiel says bonds in countries such as Japan, Germany, and the U.S. are more expensive than any other time in history. He believes bond investors face virtually sure losses, and equities are the most attractive they’ve been in a generation.
If you have any technical difficulties, either with your username and password or with the payment options, please contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org