by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Steve Forbes‘ latest contribution to Forbes magazine features a scathing attack on U.S. Treasury officials.
IN AN ERA of epic economic malpractice, one operation that has received scant attention is the U.S. Treasury Department’s mismanagement of the national debt. With interest rates abnormally low–thanks to their suppression by the Federal Reserve–you’d think Uncle Sam would go heavy on the issuance of long-term bonds to lock in ultralow costs. It wasn’t so long ago that a 30-year Treasury bond would routinely yield more than 7% instead of what it has paid recently: less than 3%.
But the geniuses at Treasury shortened the average duration of government debt to five years. This was a short-term expedient, artificially cutting the cost of financing the debt and thereby freeing up more money for wasteful domestic programs. The move was all too typical of the Obama regime in all facets of its governance. …
… Interest rates are moving up. If the bulk of Donald Trump’s tax, health and regulatory proposals come to pass, the U.S. economy will genuinely expand again; demand for credit will grow, as will the cost of gaining access to it. Washington’s interest outlays will mushroom in the years ahead.
Thankfully, there’s still time to issue significant amounts of long-term bonds with historically low costs. In fact, we should follow the examples of other countries that have issued debt with really long maturities. Economic guru Larry Kudlow suggests that Uncle Sam auction off bonds with 100-year maturities. If Mexico, Ireland and Belgium can pull this off–and they have–so can we. Austria issued one for 70 years, and Britain floated a number of issues with maturities of 40 to 50 years.
When Donald Trump takes office, the Treasury should announce that within the next 15 months or so Uncle Sam will be selling upwards of a trillion dollars in century bonds. Would such a long-maturity bond sell? There’d be a stampede for them.