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Negative Carry


Negative carry refers to a situation where the cost of holding an investment or asset exceeds the income generated by it. This usually occurs when the interest expense on borrowing funds to purchase the asset is higher than the asset’s yield. As a result, the investor incurs a loss in terms of the net carrying cost.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Negative Carry” is: /ˈnɛgətɪv ˈkæri/

Key Takeaways

  1. Negative Carry occurs when the cost of holding an asset (like interest or funding costs) is higher than the income or yield generated from that asset, leading to a net loss for the investor.
  2. This situation often arises in investments like leveraged assets, real estate, or bonds with high borrowing rates, and can result in reduced gains or increased losses if market conditions do not improve.
  3. Investors should carefully consider the potential for Negative Carry before taking on higher levels of leverage or engaging in investments with low expected yields, as it can significantly affect long-term profitability and risk exposure.


The term “Negative Carry” is important in business and finance as it highlights a potentially unfavorable financial situation wherein the cost of holding or borrowing an investment exceeds the returns generated. Negative carry often occurs when investors, businesses, or financial institutions use short-term loans or borrowed funds with higher interest rates to finance long-term investments or assets with lower yields. The concept plays a significant role in assessing the risk of investment strategies, such as carry trades, and understanding the sustainability and profitability of these financial endeavors. By recognizing negative carry situations, investors and businesses can make informed decisions to re-evaluate their investment positioning, financing structures, and risk management, thereby safeguarding their overall financial health and performance.


Negative carry occurs in the realm of finance and business when the interest or expenses associated with an investment or asset exceeds the income generated from it. While the concept itself may appear counterintuitive, it plays a vital role in some financial strategies. Often a temporary situation, negative carry comes into play when investors expect the market conditions to shift in a favorable direction, leading to gains from capital appreciation, which would outweigh any losses caused by the financing costs. This situation commonly arises in investment portfolios, such as bond market investments or speculative currency trades, wherein the potential reward for holding the asset is projected to be higher than its associated borrowing costs in the long run. Furthermore, negative carry serves as an indispensable strategic choice for businesses and financial institutions in the management of their assets and liabilities. For instance, banks and financial firms might deliberately engage in negative carry positions to hedge against inflation or interest rate risks. By taking up positions in assets that incur losses in a low interest rate environment, these institutions aim to capitalize once interest rates rise, subsequently increasing their lending rates and offsetting earlier losses. Ultimately, negative carry underscores the importance of analyzing the broader economic landscape as a crucial factor in making investment decisions, with the objective of optimizing long-term profitability.


1. Mortgage-backed securities with high coupon rates: Suppose an investor purchases mortgage-backed securities (MBS) with a high coupon rate of 8%. To finance this investment, the investor borrows funds at a 9% interest rate. In this case, the investor has a negative carry of 1% (8% MBS coupon rate – 9% borrowing cost), meaning they are losing money on the investment. 2. Real estate investment with high carrying costs: Consider a real estate investor who buys a rental property with the intent to generate rental income. The property costs $500,000, and the investor takes out a mortgage with an annual interest rate of 5%. The carrying costs, including property taxes, maintenance, and insurance, total $30,000 per year. If the rental income only generates $25,000 annually, the investor has a negative carry of $5,000 (plus the mortgage interest expense). 3. Currency trading with negative interest rate differentials: A foreign exchange trader borrows money in a high-interest rate currency, such as the Brazilian real, to purchase and hold a lower interest rate currency, such as the Japanese yen. Due to the interest rate differential, the trader has to pay more in interest on the loan than they receive from the interest earned on the purchased currency. This results in a negative carry for the trader.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Negative Carry?
Negative Carry is a financial term that refers to a situation where the cost of holding an investment or asset outweighs the income or returns generated by it. It occurs when the interest expenses or borrowing cost associated with the investment are higher than the yield or returns.
How does Negative Carry affect an investor’s portfolio?
Negative Carry can be a drag on an investor’s portfolio as it reduces the overall returns and profitability. It occurs when an investor pays more to finance the investment than what they earn, which can lead to reduced net returns, additional cash outflows, and a potential decline in the overall value of the investment.
What are some examples of Negative Carry situations?
Negative Carry situations can arise in various financial scenarios, such as:1. When an investor borrows money at a high-interest rate to invest in a lower-yielding asset or security.2. When a bank or financial institution’s borrowing cost is higher than the interest income it earns from loans or investments.3. In forex trading, when the interest rate on a borrowed currency is higher than the interest rate of the invested currency.
Can Negative Carry be positive for an investor in any way?
Yes, an investor might choose to bear negative carry costs in anticipation of a favorable change in future market conditions. For example, an investor might believe that a security’s price will appreciate significantly over time, offsetting the negative carry cost and leading to a substantial profit. However, such strategies carry inherent risks and require sound judgment and market analysis.
How can investors manage Negative Carry risks?
Investors can manage Negative Carry risks through proper due diligence, sound investment strategies, and effective risk management practices. Some ways to manage Negative Carry risks include:1. Regularly reviewing portfolio holdings and financing costs.2. Rebalancing or reallocating investments to seek positive carry opportunities.3. Hedging the positions, thus minimizing risks.4. Monitoring market conditions proactively to anticipate potential price appreciation or interest rate changes.
Is Negative Carry the same as positive carry?
No, Negative Carry is the opposite of positive carry. Positive carry occurs when the returns generated by an investment are greater than its financing or borrowing costs, resulting in a net profit for the investor. It is typically considered a desirable investment situation, whereas Negative Carry is generally seen as unfavorable.

Related Finance Terms

  • Cost of Carry
  • Positive Carry
  • Carry Trade
  • Interest Rate Differential
  • Leverage

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