As Bond Investors’ Bets Blow Up, They Might Usher In Era of Higher Rates
Belief that low rates would last forever fueled leveraged strategies that are now coming undone
In 2018, the Bank of England investigated whether a big rise in interest rates would trigger a cascade of forced selling by bond investors, destabilizing the financial system. The answer was no, even if long-term rates rose a full percentage point in a week, which had never happened in records going back to 1990.
In the days surrounding the British government’s tax-cut announcement on Sept. 23, yields on British government bonds, called gilts, gyrated as much as 1.27 points in a single day as pension funds dumped bonds and closed out bond-linked derivatives positions to meet margin calls. The Bank of England was forced to step in and buy bonds to stem the selloff.