Investors Spooked at Specter of Central Banks Halting Bond-Buying Spree

编辑:给力英语新闻 更新:2018年1月13日 作者:纽约时报(LANDON THOMAS Jr.)


For nearly a decade, central banks around the world have been the biggest buyers of bonds, sending interest rates plummeting and stock markets soaring.


Now, investors are starting to worry about what would happen if the richest nations start to scale back on a buying binge that most of them began to stimulate economies hurt by the global financial crisis.


The most immediate fear: A sharp falloff in bond prices would rattle equity markets that are now trading at record highs. Beyond that, there is a looming concern that as the global economy heats up, inflation, a bond investor’s main worry, will start to inch up, fed by higher wage demands on the part of workers everywhere.


“Your largest investor might be stepping back, that’s what spooked people,” said John Briggs, a bond strategist at NatWest Markets. “The market is very vulnerable to any change in supply and demand.”

“最大的投资者可能在回缩,这令人恐慌,”国民西敏寺银行集团市场公司(NatWest Markets)的债券策略师约翰·布里格斯(John Briggs)说。“这个市场很容易受供求变化影响。”

That vulnerability has been on display in recent weeks, with many investors selling out of their bond positions, pushing the yield — which rises as bond prices fall — on the benchmark 10-year United States Treasury bill up to a high of 2.59 percent on Wednesday from 2.3 late last year.


Bond markets appeared to be further spooked on Wednesday by a report that China’s central bank, which owns $1.2 trillion in United States Treasury bonds, may be poised to slow or even halt its buying of United States debt. China has total reserves of just over $3 trillion.


Yields on 10-year Treasury notes climbed in early trading, and the dollar weakened at the prospect of lessened demand tied to a selling of United States bonds by a large holder like China. The rising yields led Bill Gross of Janus Henderson, whose renown as a bond investor came to define the multidecade bull market for fixed-income securities, to pronounce the start of a bear market for bonds, although he said on Wednesday that he did not foresee drastic losses.

十年期美国国债收益率在早盘交易中攀升,美元走弱,因为人们预计,中国等主要持有者抛售美国国债会导致美元需求降低。收益率上升导致骏利亨德森投资公司(Janus Henderson)的比尔·格罗斯(Bill Gross)宣布,债券的熊市已到来,尽管他在周三表示,他预测不会出现大幅下跌。骏利亨德森是著名的债券投资公司,它定义了固定收益证券市场数十年的牛市。

Officials at the agency that manages China foreign reserves on Thursday issued a statement that media reports about suspending purchases of Treasuries “may quote the wrong source of information, or may be fake information.”


Analysts do not believe that the country, which under President Xi Jinping has taken pride in its standing as an elite member of the club of wealthy nations, would rashly unload the securities it has amassed over the years.


Not only would such a step hurt China by decreasing the value of its bond holdings, it would wreak havoc in a global economy that the country is now fully integrated into through deep trade and financial links.


To some experts, a move by China to pull back on its bond-buying could simply be seen as responsible-reserve management by one of the world’s richest central banks. “The boring explanation here is that China just has enough Treasuries in its portfolio,” said Brad Setser, an expert in global capital flows at the Council on Foreign Relations.

有些专家认为,中国减少债券购买的举动,可能只是全球最富有的央行之一的责任准备金管理行动。“一个乏味的解释是,中国投资组合中的国债已经够多了,”美国对外关系委员会(Council on Foreign Relations)的全球资本流动专家布拉德·塞策(Brad Setser)说。

But there is another interpretation that gets at the simmering tensions between the United States and China over North Korea and trade. “It is possible too that China wants to signal to its people that it will not keep financing the U.S. when the U.S. is not treating China with respect,” Mr. Setser said.


There is also a belief among many economists that the tax cuts recently signed into law by President Trump could worsen the United States’ financial position and make its debt less attractive as an investment.


For now, investors appear to have accepted the benign view. Major stock indexes in the United States were down only slightly on Wednesday, and the VIX index, which measures investor expectations of a sharp market move in the future, remained just over 10, a very low level.


Nevertheless, the mere thought that China might choose to unload some of its Treasuries fed broader concerns about how the markets react as central banks in the United States, Japan and Europe normalize policies adopted to prop up faltering economies.


All told, the three central banks are sitting on $14 trillion in securities they have bought since 2009: a $4.4 trillion mix of Treasuries and mortgage securities held by the Federal Reserve; the European Central Bank’s $5 trillion in corporate and government bonds; and $4.5 trillion worth of bonds and exchange traded funds accumulated by the Bank of Japan.

这三家央行共持有从2009年起购买的14万亿美元的证券。其中,美联储(Federal Reserve)持有4.4万亿美元的国债和抵押贷款证券;欧洲中央银行持有5万亿美元的公司和政府债券;日本银行(Bank of Japan)积累了价值4.5万亿美元的债券和交易所交易基金。 v Moreover, the view that the United States government, in the wake of the tax cut package, will have to issue more securities to finance a larger budget deficit is giving bond investors pause.


“The U.S. is about to issue a whole lot more debt in an environment where the demand for that debt is about to go down,” said Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “What that means is interest rates are about to go up.”

“在债券需求即将下降的环境下,美国将发行更多的债券,”塔夫茨大学(Tufts University)弗莱彻法律和外交学院(Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy)的国际政治教授丹尼尔·W·德雷兹纳(Daniel W. Drezner)表示。“这意味着,利率将会上升。”

And that is bad news for bond investors.