Vanguard Sees Opportunity in French Bonds If Spreads Widen More

(Bloomberg) -- The election-driven slump in French bonds will create a buying opportunity if spreads continue to widen, according to the head of investment strategy at the world’s second-biggest money manager.

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The selloff, which has already driven the spread between 10-year French and German debt close to the widest level in almost 12 years, could provide a good entry point to add exposure, Vanguard Group Inc.’s Joe Davis said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.

“Politics is important but other things can matter,” Davis said. “There are opportunities in the fixed income market if those spreads continue to widen.”

Most money managers are steering clear of French bonds, saying they remain vulnerable to further losses should Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party win the parliamentary election due to conclude on July 7. The snap poll has shined a spotlight on France’s stretched public finances, with investors worried that shoring up the deficit will become harder if President Emmanuel Macron’s party loses ground in parliament.

France and Italy were reprimanded by the European Union on Wednesday for running big deficits, the first stage in a confrontation that will test the bloc’s resolve and could in theory prompt billions of euros in fines.

Last week the spread between 10-year French and German debt jumped the most since 1990, when Bloomberg started compiling the data. It’s currently hovering close to 80 basis points, near the widest level since 2012.

“In the US and the UK over the past 50 years plus, the returns of the equity and fixed income market are the same in election and non-election years,” Davis said. “You have to look at the economic fundamentals, the deficit rules are going to be important.”

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