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Sovereign bond-backed securities: risk diversification and reduction

As a part of the European regulatory responses to the financial and sovereign debt crises, the European Commission has proposed a regulation on sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBS), a new class of low-risk securities backed by a diversified pool of national government bonds. The proposal seeks to provide an enabling framework for a market-led development of SBBS, thus encouraging banks and investors to diversify their holdings of euro area bonds. The proposal is meant to address a weakness that appeared during the aforementioned crises, when banks’ high exposure to their sovereigns’ own debt, coupled with deteriorating creditworthiness of those sovereigns, led to balance sheet strains for banks. This in turn put pressure on government budgets, thus creating mutual contagion and financial instability. The procedure is currently at the initial stage in the European Parliament and the Council.