Friday, December 21, 2007

Foggy Bottom has long-term Mortgages--why not Korea?

Mortgages in South Korea generally have short terms--three to five years at most. As such, they resemble the bullet mortgage that predominated in the United States before the Great Depression.

One of the reasons for the short term is that the longest term Korean benchmark security is a five-year treasury note. When I ask Koreans why the longest term is so short, they tell me it is the same reason why the county does not get a AAA bond rating--investors are nervous about the folks just to the north. Now that the rhetoric out of Pyongyang and Washington seems to be cooling, it will be interesting to see whether this ultimately extends the yield curve in the South.

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