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The Australian money market just turned upside down, but there's a good reason


Someone, somewhere in the world has effectively paid the Australian Government to hold on to millions of dollars of their money.

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In normal circumstances, that’s not a wise investment strategy. Normally, the Australian Office of Financial Management (a part of Treasury) would issue debt and would pay an interest rate over a period of time to whoever buys it.

It’s the first time that has ever happened in Australia.

In this case, the buyer was accepting that they would receive less money than they paid over the three-month term. Not normally a wise investment strategy, but in this case it was probably a trade from a bank and they are not in the business of losing money.

Before you think the world has gone truly mad there are reasons why someone would do this.

It is likely to be a sign that someone was willing to make such a move on the basis that the Australian dollar could rise and they would benefit when the debt matured in March, according to economist Gene Tunny, from Adept Economics.

Given that iron ore prices are in record territory and that normally means the dollar is heading up that could be right.

Or it could be that they are trading off the security of Australian T-notes and using them as collateral in the market. Or it could be that they were avoiding the costs involved in parking their money in a bank.

“This could show where the market is heading. It’s very possible there could be more of this,” Tunny, who previously worked in Treasury, said.

He said it was a reflection of the weakness in the global economy.

While one bidder bought at a negative rate, the weighted average of all bids in the issue was barely positive and the highest bid was at 0.07 per cent and that reflects what is going on in the market.

So are negative interest rates coming to your mortgage? No, the Reserve Bank has made it clear that negative rates will not be part of its policy.







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