The ultimate carry trade

The Economist

JUDGING by the callers on a late-night BBC radio programme, the British public is none too enthusiastic about the country’s participation in the Irish bailout. The standard reasoning was “Why are we giving money to Ireland when we haven’t got any ourselves?” Perhaps similar sentiments were being expressed on Radios Luxembourg, Belgium and Portugal.
But of course, the money isn’t being given to Ireland, it’s being lent. And even if the eventual rate is below the market level of 8%, the new debt may still carry a rate of 5% or so. Well, Britain is still paying 3.3% for 10-year money. So this is a profitable gig, borrowing at 3.3% to lend at 5%. Perhaps the government should sell the scheme to the public as the ultimate carry trade, turning Britain into a hedge fund like LTCM.