Interest Rates: The U.S. Is Not Just the "Tallest Midget", But One of a Number of "Safety" Countries
America Is Not Exceptional: Ezra Klein points out… the big economic story of 2011 was that the conventional wisdom of Washington about the urgency of deficit reduction was totally contradicted by the bond market. But Ezra makes at least a slight nod in the direction of a new conventional wisdom, which says that it’s about the unique safe haven status of the United States:
This is not, to be fair, a bet on America’s economic strength. It’s a judgment about the rest of the world’s economic weakness. U.S. Treasuries are what savvy investors buy when they’re in a canned-goods-and-ammunition sort of mood and they think gold is overvalued. But though that makes the demand we’re seeing more depressing, it doesn’t make it any less real.
What such stories miss is the fact that interest rates have dropped sharply for every [major, credit-worthy] country that borrows in its own currency…. Note to British readers: every time Cameron takes credit for low British rates, he’s hoping you don’t know that the same thing has been happening in every non-euro advanced country.
What we’re looking at is a world of depressed demand, where government securities look like a good buy everywhere except in countries that either don’t have their own currency or have large debts in foreign currency, making them vulnerable to self-fulfilling panic. It’s a world in which deficit obsession is mad, bad, and dangerous.