Short-Term German Bonds Pay Negative Interest

“I am not so much concerned with the return on capital as I am with the return of capital.”

–Will Rogers

Want an indication of just how bizarro today’s environment of zero percent interest rates (“ZIRP”) is?

Investors just accepted a negative interest rate on short-term German bonds: 

In an auction Monday, Germany sold €3.9 billion ($4.96 billion) of six-month bills that had an average yield of negative 0.0122%, the first time on record that yields at a German debt auction moved into negative territory.

German Yields South of Zero”; The Wall Street Journal (1/10/2012)

No, that’s not a typo.

Shell-shocked investors desperate for a safe harbor are actually willing to pay governments — at least ones presumed to be solvent — a nominal fee to hold their money.  

Mattresses have never looked so good . . .

P.S.:  On the theory that whatever investors most expect is least likely to happen, here’s a whopper of a contrarian prediction:  U.S. Treasuries will have another stellar year in 2012, thanks to even more infinitesimal interest rates. 

Of course, this time last year, no one thought that was possible — rates were already in the toilet — and yet U.S. Treasuries returned something like 30% in 2011!

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

Leave a Reply