With the recent increases in U.S. Treasury bond yields, some are decrying the situation as a disaster-in-the-making for Asian economies; however, we don’t subscribe to that view completely. While the levels of yields are indeed important, they’re only part of the picture; the pace at which yields change is also a critical factor. A gradual increase in the yields to 3% (the point at which we’ll cross the Rubicon, according to several commentators) wouldn’t spark a crisis for economies that have benefited from capital flows over the last few years – in effect, it would imply a further 50 basis point (bps) move higher in U.S. Treasurys from current levels, which isn’t necessarily a huge change.
The whole issue revolves around something called the “carry trade.” In its simplest form, that’s when you borrow money in a place with low interest rates, and invest that money in a place with higher interest rates in an attempt to capture the spread, or the difference between the rate levels. The worry is that with the yield differential between Treasurys and Asian government bonds diminishing, investors will abandon Asia and pile into the U.S. Read more