The Great Debate UK

Fears for bank rally overdone

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REUTERS — Margaret Doyle is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

Three months is a long time in the markets, and particularly for banks. Alongside the rally in bank shares, investors have also bid up bank bonds, especially so-called tier 1 bonds which rank just above the equity in the list of creditors.

In some cases, the prices these bonds have tripled and, overall, yields to perpetuity have halved across the sector, according to Morgan Stanley.

This rally has now overshot and the risks are on the downside. Despite being labelled debt, tier 1 is pretty much like equity: issuers can stop paying coupons, the coupons do not always accumulate if missed and the issuer can choose not to “call” (redeem) them at the call date.

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