A hedge-fund strategist had two decisions to make. First, what was the path of core euro zone long-term interest rates likely to be over the next year? Was the dramatic decline in German long rates over the past few years an aberration that would soon be reversed, or was it part of the “new normal” that would persist for some time? Second, how would periphery long rates evolve relative to core rates? That is—the spread between long rates in the likes of Greece, Spain, and Ireland and those in Germany—how would they evolve over the next year? Was the dramatic divergence in euro zone long rates likely to persist, or would the coming year see a continuation of the modest reconvergence that has occurred since mid–2012? He knew many factors influenced long-term interest rates; he would have to use his entire toolkit to address this issue. The evidence was in no way clear-cut. Some factors pointed toward lower German rates, some toward higher, some toward a widening of euro zone spreads (even a dissolution of the euro zone as we know it?), and some toward reconvergence.
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