Earlier today, we were quite shocked when we heard two statements by central bankers uttered during a press briefing in Washington. The first comes from the ECB's Mario Draghi:
- DRAGHI: LOW RATES FOR LONG PERIOD INCREASE FINANCIAL STABILITY RISKS
The second: from his supposed nemesis, if only for public consumption and not during the BIS' bimonthly meetings in Basel, Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann, who said a carbon copy replica of what Draghi had said minutes prior:
- WEIDMANN SAYS LOW INTEREST RATES INCREASE FIN STABILITY RISKS
We were "shocked" because for once, we agree with central bankers. And to get a sense of just how right the two central bank heads are we go to Bank of America which overnight released a report in which it said that as of this moment, "53% of all global government bonds are yielding 1% or less (Chart 3)."
Let that sink in for a second.
And while you are contemplating that, here is another fact from Bank of America:
The global narrative remains maximum liquidity (Chart 2) & minimal interest rates. And it’s impossible to be max bearish with such an extravagant monetary backdrop.
Central bank assets now exceed $22 trillion, a figure equivalent to the combined GDP of US & Japan
So yes, low rates for a long period of time most certainly "increase financial stability risks" - the central planners are certainly correct about that. But next time they make that remark, perhaps someone from the media can ask Messrs Draghi or Weidmann the following question:
does the fact that central banks now collectively own nearly a third of global GDP in government bonds and equivalent assets - an amount that is greater than the GDP of first and third largest global economies, have anything to do with "low rates" and the fact that "financial stability risks" as of this moment have never been higher?
Oh, and good luck with that "renormalization."