Economic Affairs: The perils of negative rates and yields

Monetary policies have been stretched to the limit

In the first week of September, the world's corporate bond markets set a dubious record. Companies around the world issued US$140 billion (S$193 billion) worth of new bonds - more than the amount raised in the whole of August. Never in history has there been so much borrowing by companies in a single week.

It's easy to understand the enthusiasm to borrow. About US$1 trillion worth of corporate bonds and one-third of sovereign bonds have negative yields - that is, lenders are actually paying borrowers for the privilege of buying their bonds. There has never been a better time to issue debt. So companies are going for it.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'The perils of negative rates and yields'. Print Edition | Subscribe