Markets

It's Official: Government Bonds Can Damage Your Wealth

Regulators need to abandon the fantasy that sovereign debt is risk-free.

These charts should carry a wealth warning.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

For months, the European Union has been wrestling with the tricky issue of how much money banks should set aside to guard against losses on government bonds. The current rules maintain the myth that sovereign debt is zero risk-weighted; the system assumes that you'll always get repaid everything you've lent to a government, which flies in the face of centuries of sovereign defaults as well as the kerfuffle that's still not completely resolved in Greece. Now, one country has broken ranks.

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