Changes of leadership in both Greece and Italy were initially well-received by markets, but investors are getting nervous again. Attention is shifting to France, and French government bonds seem to be on the nose. The chart below shows the “spread” between French and German 5-year government bonds. Measured in basis points (1/100th of 1%), the spread is the difference between the yields on the respective bonds and it has now reached 183 basis points.
Given that yields on 5-year government bonds are only 0.95%, that is a big difference. Investors are demanding almost double the rate of interest on a French bond offered by a German bond if they are to take on the risk that France is not able to repay its debt in 5 years’ time.
Unlike France, the United Kingdom is lucky enough to have its own currency and the spread between UK and German government bonds is only 10 basis points. More on that in a future post.
Data source: Bloomberg.