Riksbanker Signals QE May Reach Other Bond Types Amid Scarcity

The Swedish central bank’s second in command signaled that policy makers may need to expand beyond government bonds should they be forced to continue their quantitative easing program into next year.

The central bank could be nearing the limit on how much of the government bond market it can buy and is monitoring the situation, First Deputy Governor Kerstin af Jochnick said in Stockholm Friday. The bank will by year-end own 40 percent of nominal government bonds and 9 percent of Sweden’s inflation-linked debt, and that’s a large share, she said.

“So far, the view is that it’s functioning well but we are well aware that we are approaching some kind of limit where we probably can’t purchase that much more,” she said. The bank could “technically” buy covered bonds, corporates or municipal bonds if more stimulus is needed, she said .

Swedish municipal bonds gained. The spread between the Kommuninvest 1 percent 2021 note and the benchmark Swedish government note narrowed about 4 basis points to 51 basis points.

Nordea analyst Martin Enlund said the market may be overreacting to the comments as there would be obstacles to any plan to buy other types of debt.

The Riksbank buying Kommuninvest bonds is something that has been discussed on and off for quite some time and policy makers can still implement more government QE to cover the first half of 2017, he said.

Policy makers, recognizing new risks from the Brexit vote, in July delayed a planned rate increase to the second half of next year and predicted rates will remain below zero until mid-2018. The bank, which meets next month, held the repo rate at a record low of minus 0.5 percent and stuck to a prediction that its QE program will end in December.

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