Over at the “evidence based” LeftFootFoward blog they have an opinion piece claiming “Osborne’s ‘safe haven’ view is delusional”. Let’s examine the evidence, starting with Sovereign Credit Default Swap rates:
CDS rates reflect the cost of insuring against the risk of default. UK gilts have got their edge back, German government bunds are now seen by international markets as a higher risk than British gilts. So Osborne is right to claim that Britain is seen as a safe haven, with the resultant benefit of lower cost long term borrowing. Guido’s second piece of evidence is the disparity between German and UK government borrowing rates:
German 5-year borrowing rate: 1.41%
UK 5-year borrowing rate: 1.29%
UK rates are lower, though not as low as that other traditional European safe haven, Switzerland, where interest rates have turned negative. This means that effectively you have to pay the bank to deposit Swiss francs. Below are last night’s closing money market rates for Swiss LIBOR futures, usually quoted as 100 minus the rate, they are now confusingly trading above 100 meaning that money market rates are now negative. Not something Guido has ever seen before…
Elsewhere in Europe the banking system teeters on the edge of disaster. Anecdotally there are tales of Italians driving their Alfa Romeos across the border to convert their paper euros into hard currency in Switzerland. To paraphrase Sarah Palin: How is that monetary unity thing working out for europhiles?