Patrick Augustin, Mikhail Chernov, Lukas Schmid, Dongho Song, 10 January 2020

Benchmark interest rates, such as LIBOR or EFFR, not only serve as indicators of the monetary policy stance but also as reference rates for the multi-trillion interest rate derivatives and mortgage markets. Since the Global Crisis, these interest rates have followed a puzzling pattern relative to the US Treasury yields, known as negative swap rates. This column describes the pattern, explains why it is puzzling, and argues that the emergence of US default risk can naturally explain negative swap spreads. 

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