(Bloomberg) — Finland’s biggest private investor with $45 billion under management said asset purchases by the European Central Bank are undermining investors’ ability to price bonds.
“The value of market signals has in practice plummeted,” Risto Murto, chief executive officer of Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Co., said in an interview in Helsinki on Friday. “The role of market forces is going to be particularly small in the near future.”
The ECB plans to spend at least 1.1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) buying assets, including government bonds, to put more cash into circulation and stave off deflation. Even before the quantitative easing program was announced, yields across Europe hit record lows with 10-year government bonds from Italy and Spain yielding less than similar-maturity U.S. Treasury debt. Outside Europe, the ECB program also buoyed asset prices.
“Markets in the U.S. learned that QE is good for stocks,” Murto said. “We’ll have to remember that the impact in Europe is likely to be smaller because of financial market structures and the timing.”
Because European companies rely less on bonds for funding than their U.S. counterparts, “we can’t look to the U.S. to gauge the size of the impact,” he said.