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A theory on european bond market turmoil

  • This white paper builds a new financial theory of euro area sovereign bond markets under stress. The theory explains the abnormal bond pricing and increasing spreads during the recent market turmoil. We find that the strong disconnect of bond spreads from the respective bonds’ underlying fundamental values in 2010 was triggered by an increase in asymmetric information and weak reputation of government policies. Both factors cause a normal bond market to switch into a crisis mode. Finally, those markets are prone to self-fulfilling bubbles in which the economic effects are amplified by herding behaviour arising from animal spirits. Altogether, this produces contagious effects and multiple equilibria. Thus, we argue that government bond markets in a monetary union are more fragile and vulnerable to liquidity and solvency crises. Consequently, the systemic mispricing of sovereign debt creates more macroeconomic instability and bubbles in the euro area than in a single country. In other words, financial markets are partly blind to national default risks in a currency union. Therefore, the current European institutional framework puts the wrong incentives in place and needs structural changes soon. To tackle the root causes we suggest more market incentives via consistent rules, pre-emptive austerity measures in good economic times, and a resolution scheme for heavily indebted countries. In summary, our paper enhances the bond market theory and provides new insights into the recent bond market turmoil in Europe.

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Author of HS ReutlingenHerzog, Bodo
Publisher:Global Financial Institute
Document Type:Working Paper
Year of Publication:2014
Page Number:24
First Page:1
Last Page:24
DDC classes:330 Wirtschaft
Open Access?:Ja
Licence (German):License Logo  Open Access