Retreat of Negative Rates Isn’t an All-Clear for Investors: Mohamed A. El-Erian

A large-scale retreat by central banks from ultra-low rates and accommodating balance sheet policies does not appear imminent.

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Negative-yielding government bonds have been a significant force for a superb year of investment returns for both stocks and bonds, and many are welcoming their recent decline as an indicator of what will support the next leg up in valuations. Yet the evidence remains mixed, suggesting a more nuanced approach to longer-term investing.

The growth and persistence of negative-yielding debt in 2019 has done more than deliver attractive price appreciation on government bonds. It has pushed investors to take on more risk, pushing up the price of assets from investment-grade and high-yield corporate bonds to emerging markets to, of course, equities. It has also encouraged companies to intensify their financial engineering, often involving debt issuance to pay for stock buybacks. And it has supported a range of mergers and acquisitions.

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