Of primary focus has been sovereign bonds. U.S. government Treasuries, Japanese government bonds, and German bunds are trading at record highs, yielding little profit for investors.
But the scarcity—and thus the high price of these securities—has been exacerbated by central bank measures taken to mend the troubles of the crisis.
Since the financial crisis, quantitative easing has essentially given banks in the U.S. and U.K fast cash in exchange for Treasuries and gilts, and immediately freed up funds to put money in riskier places that would spur corporate growth.
However now investors are worried that the long-term effects of driving up the cost of safe assets will make it harder for institutional investors like investment banks and hedge funds to meet the stricter standards of new rules put in place to ensure financial stability.
PIMCO's Mohamed El-Erian expressed this anxiety in a speech to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis yesterday. "In the last three plus years, central banks have had little choice but to do the unsustainable in order to sustain the unsustainable until others do the sustainable to restore sustainability," he said. "In the case of three institutions in particular (the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the Fed), they also change the balance between “safe” and other assets in the financial system."