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BANKING

The Dutch stay in touch

Why the European government bond markets have failed...and what the European Union would like to do about it

Smaller borrowers in the fractured and crowded European sovereign bond market sometimes complain that life would be easier if they had more money to raise in a market which equates size with liquidity and rewards it with a premium. “In the end we have a limited amount of debt to fund,” says Erik Wilders, agent of the ministry of finance which manages public debt through the Dutch State Treasury Agency, “but we have to make choices on which bonds to issue in adequate size.”

The DSTA has issued interest and principal only strips to enable investors to reconstitute holdings of seasoned bonds into newer, more liquid lines. Through recent issues and reopenings it has concentrated on longer-term debt.

The DSTA has also struggled to maintain close contact with investors in its bonds, seeing a risk in being completely removed from end-buyers and disintermediated by primary dealers.

There is a popular joke at the agency. A Dutch finance ministry official goes to Japan to market the excellent credit fundamentals of the Netherlands.