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German bunds rate forecast: Two-year yields see highest drop in 30 years

By Ryan Hogg

Edited by Vanessa Kintu


Updated

German flags waving in the wind in the famous Reichstag building, the seat of the German Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag)
German bunds are Germany’s form of sovereign debt issuance Photo: canadastock / Shutterstock

German two-year Bund yields fell by 41 basis points (bps) on 13 March. The largest single-day drop since records began 30 years earlier. Yields of German 10-year Bunds dropped by around 55 bps.

The drop came as two US banks, California-based Silicon Valley Bank and New York-based Signature Bank collapsed under the weight of heavy losses on their bond portfolios and a massive run on deposits.

US Treasury notes’ two-year yields also fell by 61 bps on 13 March, the biggest one-day fall since 1982.

What are German bunds?

German bunds are Germany’s form of sovereign debt issuance, equivalent to US Treasury bills or UK gilts.

The German state issues bunds to finance expenditures on things like roads and schools. They are highly attractive as safe-haven assets.

Bunds see their rates rise in response to several factors, but usually those associated with bearish times in the wider economy. They can rise in response to volatile market risk like high levels of high inflation or a flagging stock market, or as a result of rising interest rates

Holding bunds is seen as safe haven investing, due to their low risk and high likelihood of returns. However, bunds carry an interest rate risk as rising German bond yields diminish the value of bonds held by investors. At the moment (11 November), they’re growing faster than inflation.

Typically, bunds appreciate in interest as their maturity expands, reflecting the risk apparent in holding assets for longer. 

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German bunds: Rising prices and interest rates 

In late 2022, saw a rise amid a perceived high market risk.

Inflation in Germany has risen rapidly as the country battles the fallout of jammed supply chains following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 8.7% in February, 0.8% higher than in January. Meanwhile, the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices was 9.3%, 1.0% higher than the previous month.

Germany, more than several of its eurozone compatriots, was heavily dependent on Russian energy prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – 55% of the country’s gas imports in 2021 came from Russia, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). By June 2022, that figure had declined to 26%. 

Inevitably, this added to a steep rise in costs. Energy product prices in February were up 19.1% year-over-year (YOY). 

According to analysts, rising inflation also impacted German bonds.

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“The skyrocketing inflation trend in Germany is generating an earthquake for the Bund market,” Capital.com analyst Piero Cingari wrote in a note. 

This is because inflation has forced the European Central Bank (ECB) – which has a 2% CPI target – to hike interest rates with hawkish intention, affecting borrowing for eurozone member states like Germany.

The ECB increased its deposit facility by 75 bps consecutively in September and October, and a further 50 bps in December, February 2023 and March 2023.

The elevated level of uncertainty reinforces the importance of a data-dependent approach to the Governing Council’s policy rate decisions, which will be determined by its assessment of the inflation outlook in light of the incoming economic and financial data, the dynamics of underlying inflation, and the strength of monetary policy transmission.

Prior to the fall in March, 10-year German bonds appeared to be responding to the hikes, rising from 0.77% at the start of August to 2% on 10 November. 

However, the collapse of the two US banks seems to be costing bunds their status as a safe-haven asset. 

Germany is also coping with a steep budget deficit tied to both the Covid-19 stimulus and measures taken since Russia’s campaign against Ukraine began.

The country recorded a €189bn deficit in 2020, its biggest since German reunification in 1990, as it filled public coffers to accommodate aggressive lockdowns. This fell to a still substantial €132bn in 2021.

Germany ran a deficit of €13bn in the first half of 2022, having amassed a €75.6bn deficit in the first half of 2021. As a result, a surging number of supply of bonds have been made available by the German government, which has perhaps helped keep rates lower than they would be otherwise.

This is expected to escalate, with Germany planning to double borrowing to €45bn in 2023 to fight the effects of an energy shortfall, sources told Bloomberg

Piero Cingari noted that this could affect the bond market outlook:

“The German government will need to issue more bunds in order to finance its budget deficit the next year and cover its rising energy expenses. The additional supply of bunds will need to be absorbed mostly by investors, since the ECB will no longer have a quantitative easing programme and could switch to a Quantitative Tightening programme.”

Analyst opinions and projections

According to World Government Bonds, the 10-year German bond is forecast to hit 2.612% by the end of June 2023, an increase of 33.6 bp on current levels.

Meanwhile, Trading Economics expected that in 12 months’ time, the 10-year yield could reach 3.37%, after hitting 2.69% at the end of this quarter.

FAQs

What are German bunds?

They are Germany’s form of sovereign debt issuance, equivalent to US Treasury bills or UK gilts.

Why has the 10-year German bond been falling?

The 10-year German bond has recently fallen in response to two US banks collapsing under the weight of heavy losses on their bond portfolios and a massive run on deposits.

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You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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