Negative-Yielding Debt Hits Record $14 Trillion as Fed Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- On the day Jerome Powell attempted to moderate market expectations for further easing, the world’s stockpile of negative-yielding bonds notched another remarkable record.

The Federal Reserve’s rate cut helped swell the total of all debt with sub-zero yields to more than $14 trillion for the first time. The market value of the Bloomberg Barclays Global Negative Yielding Debt Index closed at $14.1 trillion on Wednesday, after the biggest one-day jump in a month.

Negative-Yielding Debt Hits Record $14 Trillion as Fed Cuts

Policy makers in the world’s largest economy cut interest rates by a quarter point, in a move widely anticipated by markets. In a press conference, Chairman Powell left open the possibility of further moves but said he didn’t necessarily see Wednesday’s action as the start of an extended easing cycle.

All the same, the Fed’s surprise decision to stop shrinking its balance sheet early, alongside the cut, spurred a rally in 10-year Treasuries with the yield closing at the lowest in four weeks. They retraced the move in Asian and European trading Thursday.

Government debt around the globe has rallied in sympathy with bets on U.S. rate cuts. German bund yields dropped to a new low in the build-up to the Fed announcement, while Japanese peers rose before the Bank of Japan released its monthly debt-purchase plan.

The value of bonds yielding less than zero now makes up more than a quarter of the entire investment-grade market, the data show. They comprise 25.68% of the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index, a gauge which includes government, corporate and securitized debt. That’s a whisker away from the record 25.99% posted in 2016.

It’s all spurring angst about the long-term impact of ultra-low rates on asset prices and the real economy.

“I think negative rates are simply negative for the economy,” Mark Okada, co-chief investment officer at Highland Capital Management, said on Bloomberg TV. “You don’t get the transmission mechanism to your banking system.”

Negative-Yielding Debt Hits Record $14 Trillion as Fed Cuts

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