New financial product (or dumb idea/not a new idea)?
The fact that folks are paying negative yields for US debt (and the debt of swiss/germans/etc) seems absurd, especially given that most gov't debt is a huge time bomb. Obviously some folks need these as collateral for financial transactions. But the bulk of these are held by short- and long-term investors who just continue to roll it over. By and large people put up with negative yields because: (A) They are desperate for a very safe place to park their money right now (B) They want maximum liquidity.
IDEA: Create notes that are similar to BA but far safer. Set up a Swiss/Singapore bank who sole function is to collect currency and issue paper reflecting their reserves. Every paper would backed 100% by currency sitting in the vault and be redeemable at any time. The paper is default-free and highly liquid, satisfying the needs of the marketplace (including clearinghouse collateral req). The bank could make money by (A) selling this paper at a slight premium and/or (B) have back-end loads during redemption. But is it possible that we are in an arbitrage-free environment, and those costs would equal the negative yields of gov't bonds to start with? In any case, I think it is a good idea, because paying governments like the US to take our money only encourages them to become more reckless spenders. They ought to be punished by the bond markets, not rewarded.