When investors complain about low interest rates, they are usually referring to the rates on government bonds, particularly TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities). But such rates should not be seen as proxies for the rates of return on all investments. Real returns to productive U.S. fixed investment in tangible capital have not fallen over the past 25 years.
Quantitative easing has led to the largest expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet since WW II. While this, naturally, leads to concern about inflation, the Fed has the tools to unwind the balance sheet once the economy builds steam.
Not only are nations wrestling with growing debt levels, but so are state and local governments, including those in the seven states that make up the Eighth Federal Reserve District. Two of those seven states—Kentucky and Illinois—each have combined state and local obligations that, as a percentage of gross state product, are higher than California's.