ECONOMY

First test for government bond auction

The government’s first debt auction for the year is scheduled to take place next week and is seen as being an important test for the 2009 borrowing program. The Public Debt Management Agency will auction T-bills on Tuesday in a bid to raise some 2 billion euros, as part of plans to borrow some 45 billion euros for the year. About half of this amount will go toward refinancing expiring bonds. The auction will test the risk appetite of investors faced with a growing amount of government debt being issued Europe-wide by countries wanting to finance fiscal stimulus packages. According to press reports, developed and emerging countries will issue some $10 trillion in bonds this year. Apart from the rising premiums demanded by investors for holding Greek government debt, analysts warn that demand may not cover the supply of bonds being auctioned. The spread of 10-year Greek government bond yields over benchmark German Bund yields has widened in recent months, hitting 220 basis points recently.