Polish bonds outperform global benchmarks

By bne IntelliNews February 9, 2012

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Polish sovereign bonds outperformed both the German European and US global benchmarks in terms of risk-adjusted returns over the last three years to top a recent ranking by Bloomberg. The ranking will only encourage efforts by Warsaw to push the ratings agencies into upgrading the country's debt.

The Bloomberg Riskless Return Ranking illustrates that for Polish government debt, local-currency returns increased the most among 25 countries in the three years to February 6. The ranking gives Poland the top spot with an 8.3% return, trumping the 4.0% on bunds and 3.0% for US paper. Although Polish debt only gave the ninth highest total returns, its lower volatility - second only to Japan - sped it to top spot.

That happy meeting of stability with average yields of 5.3% - around double German and US rates - has seen foreign investors dive into the asset. The fact that pension funds are required to invest at least 95% of their assets locally helps provide that stability to the Polish market.

One analyst, Gyula Toth at UniCredit, tells the Bloomberg: "Investors are switching out of US Treasuries and into Polish government bonds. This is a sort of eastern European safe haven."

The news is only likely to add grist to Poland's mill as it fights the major ratings agencies for an upgrade from its local-currency ratings of 'A2'/'A'.

After Donald Tusk become the country's first ever prime minister to win a consecutive term last year he announced a strict austerity drive to squeeze the budget deficit and lower state debt. Officials instantly demanded an upgrade. The agencies, worried by recent weakness of the zloty and ongoing debt levels, replied that Warsaw should get its austerity policies up and running first.

Poland's local-currency debt is currently rated at the sixth highest grade by all three major ratings agencies, putting it on a par with Italy. Germany boasts a 'AAA' grade from all of them.

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