TINA’s a Liar

There may not be many time-tested investment maxims but “return of principal is more important than return on principal” may be one of them. However, looking over the global government bond market landscape one might think that this philosophy has been stood on its head, to say the least. Currently, $11Trillion dollars of sovereign government debt yields less than zero, up some 21% since October alone. What this means is that there is $11 Trillion of capital investing for the sole purpose of losing money. Granted, the large majority of this money is driven by non-investment considerations such as asset/liability matching and indexing, but the fact remains that people are opting for a diminution in capital versus simply putting it under their proverbial mattress. TINA (there is no alternative) has always been used by asset allocators to justify the inclusion of assets whose returns have seen better days.  But with this much capital chasing negative yields TINA is not only arguing that there is no alternative she is arguing that losing money is the better alternative.  With a clear slowdown in global growth, Central Bankers can only look at this rate environment with concern regarding their future course of action should situations deteriorate further.

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