Lage rentes: hoe lang nog?

CAMBRIDGE – Hoe lang kunnen de ongekend lage rentestanden van vandaag de dag in de voornaamste valutalanden nog standhouden? In de Verenigde Staten, het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Duitsland schommelt de 10-jaars rente rond het eens ondenkbare niveau van 1,5%, terwijl het 10-jaars tarief in Japan tot onder de 0,8% is gezakt. Blijkbaar zijn beleggers wereldwijd bereid om deze uitermate lage rentes te aanvaarden, ook al lijken die geen compensatie te bieden voor de verwachte inflatie. De rente op Amerikaanse inflatie-geïndexeerde obligaties (zogenaamde “TIPS”) is inmiddels al negatief tot en met een looptijd van 15 jaar.

Kan deze uitzonderlijke situatie zo blijven bestaan? Op de zeer korte termijn zeker wel; de rente kan zelfs nog verder dalen. Op langere termijn is deze situatie echter absoluut niet stabiel.

Aan de lage rentes van vandaag de dag liggen drie belangrijke omstandigheden ten grondslag. In de allereerste plaats is daar de wereldwijde overvloed aan spaargeld, de “global savings glut” die bekendheid kreeg na een toespraak in 2005 van Ben Bernanke, de huidige voorzitter van de Federal Reserve. Om diverse redenen hebben spaarders in veel regio’s de overhand gekregen. In Duitsland en Japan moet de vergrijzende bevolking voor de oude dag te sparen. In China houdt de overheid veilige obligaties aan als bescherming tegen een toekomstige bankencrisis en daarnaast is het Chinese spaaroverschot natuurlijk een neveneffect van de overheidsinspanningen om de wisselkoers te stabiliseren. Soortgelijke motieven liggen aan de opbouw van reserves in andere opkomende landen ten grondslag. Tot slot trachten olie-exporterende landen zoals Saoedi-Arabië en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten tijdens haussejaren een deel van hun rijkdommen opzij te zetten.

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