Something very odd happened in a peculiar corner of the markets in the opening days of this month
Very long-dated Swiss bond yields came out of the freezer
For almost a whole week, the yields on the country's 2058 bonds actually poked above 0%
Investors got a return for buying them. Amazing stuff!
This is of course how bond markets are supposed to work, but we live in extraordinary times,
and fully $13tn or so of bonds around the world yield less than nothing, which means investors effectively pay to own them
Now don't panic. Those Swiss yields swiftly return back to below zero, back to the new normal
But this isn't the only pocket of the bond markets showing some cracks
UK yields have picked up from the record lows they've seen recently as the drift drip of decent UK economic news forces a brighter rethink of what the country might look like after the EU referendum
Even Japanese 10-year yields are inching back up towards zero
So, of these canaries in the coal mine, since 2008, investors have been on high alert for the next big crisis, and a serious shake-up of the bond market is a possibility that keeps many awake at night,
particularly as memories of the mini blowup in German bonds last year are still fresh in the mind
What if inflation recovers? More importantly, what if inflation expectations recover?
What if, whisper it, fiscal stimulus kicks in and generates some proper global growth?
But these are all seriously big "ifs," and are nice problems to have
For now, the attitude is: show me the money, and more importantly, show me a fad that's smoothly raising interest rates
Flickers of the good old days with bonds that really yielded something will come and go, but most investors are resigned to super low yields for weeks and months to come