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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Investors are getting negative yields on €180 billion worth of bonds issued by dozens of America's largest corporations, including some that are junk-rated.

Why it matters: The European Central Bank has lowered interest rates so far into negative territory that investors can get a significant pick-up in yield even when buying at negative yields. There’s speculative value to these bonds too — once they’ve broken the zero bound, yields can always fall further, meaning a bond bought at a negative yield can still be sold at a profit.

How it works: Many American companies issue what's known as reverse-Yankee bonds — where they borrow in euros rather than dollars. AT&T has €13.6 billion ($16 billion) of such bonds trading at negative yields, with companies such as IBM, Apple and Procter & Gamble not far behind, according to S&P Global Ratings.

By the numbers: Apple's €1.4 billion bond maturing next year trades at 101.89, for a yield of -0.5%. Its 2029 euro-denominated bond trades at -0.03%. GE, which carries a credit rating of BBB+, has a bond trading at -0.21%.

  • Colfax Corp., a junk-rated manufacturer of medical devices with a rating of BB, has a negative-yielding €350 million bond due in 2025.
  • Between the lines: Negative yields are also found on some bonds issued by American companies in Swiss francs.

The bottom line: Very few U.S. companies actually try to issue bonds at negative yields. In euros, it's only happened once, from Colgate-Palmolive in 2019. Once debt starts trading, however, it regularly gets bid up to levels above the total amount of principal and interest outstanding.

Go deeper

Desperate times for distressed investors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China’s Evergrande is giving hedge fund managers who invest in distressed situations what they’ve craved all year: a huge company with billions in debt trading at deeply discounted levels.

Yes, but: It’s a sign of the times that in order to access one of the only large distressed opportunities, they have to stretch into one of investing’s riskiest regions.

Scoop: Garland defends DOJ's handling of Jan. 6 probe

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that federal prosecutors "are doing exactly what they are expected to do" in seeking accountability for the "intolerable assault" on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Allies of former President Trump, including Republican congressmen, have criticized the department's treatment rioters charged with crimes, and sought to recast the insurrection as a righteous protest. Garland's testimony with be his first appearance before the panel.

Updated 32 mins ago - World

Police charge man with murder of British MP David Amess

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Police said Thursday that Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man, has been charged with the murder of David Amess, a Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K.

The big picture: Last week, the Metropolitan Police declared the fatal stabbing a terrorist incident, saying that they had found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."