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Girls scream as Prince William and Prince Harry walk into Canada Place on March 24, 1998, in Vancouver. (Carlo Allegri/Carlo Allegri / AFP)
Girls scream as Prince William and Prince Harry walk into Canada Place on March 24, 1998, in Vancouver. (Carlo Allegri/Carlo Allegri / AFP)

The global bond market has gone bonkers Add to ...

You might as well stop paying attention to day-to-day headlines on the global bond market because very little makes sense any more.

For example, in just two days Spanish 10-year bond yields dropped about 65 basis points, while the 5-year bonds fell even farther, plummeting almost 100 basis points in the same short period.

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And this is right after those same five-year bonds soared from a yield of 5.83 per cent to 7.59 per cent in the course of just one week earlier this month.

The situation couldn’t be any more different on this side of the Atlantic. Canadian government and U.S. Treasury yields are still sitting near their all-time lows, with much speculation they could fall even farther. When Spanish yields blew out just two days ago, 10-year Canada bonds fell to a yield of 1.57 per cent and 10-year Treasuries slumped to 1.387 per cent.

These yields have been so low for so long that they’re almost starting to seem meaningless. But think of them this way: the U.S. government can borrow practically as much as it wants for 10 years, and will only have to pay about 1.4 per cent interest on that amount annually. It’s incredible.

The underlying story in the North America market has been said many times by now: it’s all about a flight to quality. And that makes sense – sort of. I’m not sure you can really define the U.S., with a debt-to-GDP of over 100 per cent as quality. But we get the picture.

Europe, however, is a totally different story. We, the media, often report on just how quickly Spanish or Italian yields are blowing out, as an indication of investor frustration and fear. But the truth is, there’s likely very little liquidity in the market, and investors are simply trading on gut instincts. Little else could explain such wild fluctuations in just a few days.

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