David Green

With interest rates crashing, Boris is in luck - he can borrow his way out of any Brexit crisis

With interest rates crashing, Boris is in luck - he can borrow his way out of any Brexit crisis
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Is Boris Johnson the luckiest prime minister ever? This week, the Government can borrow money for ten years at 0.48 per cent and for thirty years at 1.16 per cent. At these rates, it would irresponsible not to borrow more.

The age of austerity can be brought to an end at exactly the same moment we leave the EU, opening up vast new opportunities for investment in infrastructure and public services. The Cameron government had to cope with the aftermath of the great recession and lived in fear of being heavily in debt if real interest rates went up.

No such fear need trouble Boris. If the Government issues more 30-year bonds it will not matter if interest rates go up in the future. For every 30-year bond valued at £100 the Government will receive £107. In 30 years, it will have to pay back £100 and in each year it will pay nominal interest of 1.5 per cent, a yield of 1.17 per cent at today’s bond prices.

For ten-year bonds, the yield is even lower. People are buying bonds worth £100 for £110 and getting a nominal rate of interest of 1.63 per cent, a yield of 0.49 per cent in today’s market.

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We can borrow as much as we need to restore our battered public services and fund new needs, such as social care in old age. Above all, we can invest in assets that will generate ample income to pay back the debt in 30 years. Most obviously, investment in housing will produce an asset that can be sold or rented. Investment in internet infrastructure will also produce an asset that could yield an income, and putting money into ports, roads and rail will spark economic activity that will allow us to earn higher incomes and pay taxes.

We could declare the whole country an enterprise zone, slash corporation tax to ten per cent and allow 100 per cent deduction of capital investment for the next 20 years. This could promote a modern industrial revolution to outshine anything that has gone before. The international companies currently fretting about tariffs will find the economic calculation points in only one direction: if you want to make profits come to the UK. 

The EU 27 will find that their attempts to punish us will backfire. International companies have no loyalty; they follow the money. They will no longer be threatening to up sticks for the EU but instead be flooding across the Channel to set up shop among the people who had the backbone to take back control. 

The current impasse is the result of cowards dominating the EU 27 and the UK Parliament. There have always been two kinds of Tory: the fearful reactionaries and the fearless liberals. The reactionaries fear change and want to keep things as they are. Dominic Grieve is the classic Tory frightened rabbit. The fearless liberals value personal freedom, welcome change as an opportunity for improvement, and honour business and social entrepreneurs for their courage and steadfast commitment to creating a better world. 

Low interest rates have given us a lucky break just at the right time. We need to seize the day.

David Green is CEO of Civitas