Back in 1992 the real interest rate on a ten-year U.S. Treasury bond was 5% per year. Right now the real interest rate on a ten-year U.S. Treasury bond is more or less zero. Borrow back in 1992 thinking that the government is going to repay its borrowings ten years down the road and ten years down the road you find yourself paying back $1.65 in real purchasing power for each dollar you borrowed in 1992. Today you find yourself paying back just $1 in real purchasing power ten years from now for each dollar you borrow today. As Commander Whorf would say if he were an economist rather than a Klingon professional practitioner of coercive violence: “Today is a good day to borrow,” for the government at least.
Brad DeLong summarizes Robert Reich. Today’s must read economic blog post.