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The case for GDP bonds


Around the world, governments are struggling to drum up buyers for the mountain of bonds they need to sell. And that’s especially true for big deficit, low savings countries like Britain and the United States.

The returns they are offering on conventional government bonds are low and there’s the risk of inflation eating away at their value. Perhaps it is time for a different approach.

Rather than hiring investment banks to bamboozle the public into subscribing for unwanted conventional bonds, or cramming them down the throats of the banks as part of expanded reserve requirements, governments should consider issuing bonds linked to gross domestic product.

GDP bonds are not a new idea but few governments have issued them. Those that have don’t make for a distinguished roll call, including as they do Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Argentina, which swapped conventional bondholders into GDP bonds after its currency collapse in 2001.