The problems related to these countries’ public finances have caused a sharp depreciation of the government paper, especially since the beginning of 2010. Dutch households most likely purchased these securities with an eye to future price gains and because of the high yields. The increased activity of households in these securities is remarkable considering the minor transactions in the period before mid-2009 (see Chart).
Incidentally, peripheral government paper only makes up a fraction of the investment portfolio of households. Total securities holdings in September amounted to EUR 88 billion. Of this, EUR 3.5 billion consisted of − mainly Dutch − government paper. The share of households in total peripheral euro countries’ outstanding government debt (approximately EUR 2,800 billion) is also very small.