Austria’s 100-Year Bond at Less Than 1%

Austria’s recent return to the century-bond club with a 2 billion-euro ($2.3 billion) debt issue is a clear example of how the European Central Bank is encouraging greater risk taking, according to a recent article in Bloomberg.

“That’s what it was designed to do, for issuers and investors alike,” the article notes, adding that the successful sale (which was more than 10 times oversubscribed) may “just be the start of a wave of European sovereign issues as governments raise a lot more debt to finance their pandemic economic responses. What would have seemed like crazily low yields three years ago are just run-on-the-mill now as rates are driven lower by the gush of money flooding Europe’s finance system.”

The article describes Austria’s new issue as a “vivid example of how desperate investors are to snap up highly rated securities that yield something (anything).” It explains that fixed-income investors looking for returns in “this yield-starved environment can either take greater credit risk (by buying junk bonds, for example) or reach for ever longer duration. The sensible ones will do a bit of both.”

“Austria’s positive experience with longer debt means more European countries are likely to follow,” the article concludes, adding, “At this rate, 30-year debt will soon just be viewed as a medium-term maturity.”