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Sorry, I misquoted.

I linked the following FT blog by Emma Saunders, from 11 March. I picked up the covered bond purchase number (4.8 billion) instead of the securities markets programme number (13.1 billion), being the holdings of the ECB at end of 2010.

Eurosystem bond profit - correction | Money Supply | News, data and opinions on market-moving economics from the Financial Times - FT.com

To set the record straight, ECB national accounts show that the central bank held more like 18 per cent than 8 per cent of bonds bought to aid sovereigns in distress.
17.8 per cent of them as at end 2010, to be precise. At the end of December, the total stock of bonds purchased was €73.5bn, and 13.1/73.5 is 17.8 per cent.

(Sorry for the 10 billion euro difference.)

The takeaway point is that, in the 5-and-a-bit months to June 11, the ECB has increased its holdings in the securities markets programme phenomenally :

13 to 75 billion on the SMP (62 billion net purchases)

I've no idea what proportion of the stock of distressed sovereign bonds that represents... any ballpark numbers around?

So :

  1. the ECB claims to be buying up these junk bonds because the market is dysfunctional, i.e. is improperly pricing in the risk of defaults which ALL serious people know to be impossible (which is why they are booked without impairment, as "hold to maturity" zero-risk securities!)
  2. therefore the price of these bonds would be MUCH lower, and the yields higher, if the ECB did not intervene,
  3. I want to understand whether the ECB is buying these bonds directly from the banks, or whether speculators bought the bonds from the banks, then took fright and sold on to the ECB (in the aggregate) : i.e. are the speculators getting a haircut too?
  4. How does default insurance correlate to bond ownership? Is it necessary to own bonds in order to purchase insurance? Are the speculators buying insurance when they buy bonds?
  5. If the bulk of Greek debt is now no longer held by banks, but by speculators who hold insurance, then when the price drops, their interest is best served  by default, right? Or by full payment at term without rollover, but unserious people like these speculators know that this is impossible.

I've probably got hold of the wrong end of a stick that may not even exist; but I'm trying to follow the money here. And you people are writing my book for me.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jun 16th, 2011 at 04:23:38 AM EST
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