If you could borrow as much as you might wish to at an interest rate of close to zero over 10 or more years, you would surely do so. There would be no lack of projects that promised wealth-generating returns of at least 1% per year. Of course, such funding opportunities are not readily available to any ordinary business or household. Lenders would demand a premium to cover the risk of default and therefore raise the prospective returns potential investors would have to achieve. But such considerations do not apply to the German, Japanese or Netherlands governments, or even Brexit-stressed Britain. These governments can borrow as much as they wish at very low rates. And the Swiss government can borrow at a negative rate of interest — lenders pay for the privilege of funding the Swiss government for 10 years and longer. Surely an extra bridge or highway, port or pipeline, or even a dyke helping to create a productive polder, can promise a 1% per year return? If governments would exerc...

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