Yield-starved foreign investors are flooding the U.S. muni market

Strange are the times when a third of all government debt around the world carries a negative yield, and yet such is the case today.

From Japan to eurozone countries, investors are faced with the tough decision of accepting subzero yields, doing nothing—or seeking other so-called “safe haven” options. Many have rediscovered gold, and as I pointed out earlier this week, demand for the yellow metal as an investment just had its best first quarter ever, with near-record inflows into gold ETFs.

But gold hasn’t been the only beneficiary.     

Overseas investors, starved for yield, are also flocking to investment-grade U.S. municipal bonds, which help fund infrastructure projects at the state and local levels. (Seventy-five percent of all infrastructure spending in the U.S., in fact, is financed with municipal bonds.) Munis offer a history of low volatility and near-zero default rates, not to mention diversification and attractive yields in a world of little to no yield. Below, notice that Japan’s 10-year government bond yield continues to edge lower into negative territory.

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About the Author

Frank Holmes is CEO and chief investment officer of US Global Investors.