Thursday, May 24, 2012

Decoding Interest Rates - What does bonds at 0% mean?

We see today in Germany what we saw in the US starting a couple years ago: big investors throwing their money in 0% (zero percent) bonds.  The press calls it a "flight to safety", but this is really bad news for the economy.   It doesn't just scream deflationary depression like the real-time price indicators I mentioned a couple articles ago, it is tangle proof of deflationary depression. 

After all, why would anyone invest in a zero percent bond?    It is a reflection of the fact that everything else is falling in value.   When EVERYTHING else is deflating, just holding even at zero percent looks pretty good.   Conversely, if there is anything worth investing in, no one will take a zero percent bond. 

In short, big money going into zero percent bonds is proof of monetary deflation and economic depression.   More generally, low interest rates are a sign of low demand for money, which prevails in poor economic conditions. 

This is a chronic condition among economies mired in debt.  High debt loads turn an economic contraction into a deep depression.  This effect is due to the mechanics of widening circles of forced liquidations/fire sales, to pay off old loans while asset values are falling, as well as widening circles of bad credit, credit destruction, and credit risk. 

This is the exact time when central banks should be intervening with cash infusions to short circuit the deflationary spiral, but oddly enough, the Fed Reserve is not talking about it publicly.   I guess that is mainly because it is a European problem right now.  The ECB should be doing something, but all talk is on austerity and currency breakup instead. 

Of course the best solution would be to cancel the debts outright, totally breaking the back of the debt-deflation process and allowing the economies to reset. 

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