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Searching for yield abroad: risk-taking through foreign investment in U.S. bonds

Author

Listed:
  • John Ammer
  • Alexandra Tabova
  • Caleb Wroblewski

Abstract

The risk-taking effects of low interest rates, now prevailing in many advanced countries, ("search-for-yield") are hard to analyze due to both a paucity of data and challenges in identification. Unique, security-level data on portfolio investment into the United States allow us to overcome both problems. Analyzing holdings of investors from 36 countries in close to 15,000 unique U.S. corporate bonds between 2003 and 2016, we show that declining home-country interest rates lead investors to shift their international bond portfolios toward riskier U.S. corporate bonds, consistent with "search-for-yield". We estimate even stronger effects when home interest rates reach a low level, suggesting that risk-taking in securities accelerates as rates decline.

Suggested Citation

  • John Ammer & Alexandra Tabova & Caleb Wroblewski, 2018. "Searching for yield abroad: risk-taking through foreign investment in U.S. bonds," BIS Working Papers 687, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:687
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    2. Bank for International Settlements, 2020. "US dollar funding: an international perspective," CGFS Papers, Bank for International Settlements, number 65.
    3. Martijn Boermans & Viacheslav Keshkov, 2018. "The impact of the ECB asset purchases on the European bond market structure: Granular evidence on ownership concentration," DNB Working Papers 590, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    4. Bergant, Katharina & Fidora, Michael & Schmitz, Martin, 2018. "International capital flows at the security level – evidence from the ECB’s asset purchase programme," ECMI Papers 13926, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    5. Kučera, Adam, 2020. "Identification of triggers of U.S. yield curve movements," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    low interest rates; search for yield; portfolio choice; corporate debt;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General

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