At first glance, the European Union doesn't seem like the most creditworthy of borrowers. But the Wall Street Journal highlights the massive investor demand for European sovereign bonds, a demand that is enabling countries like Austria to issue bonds at 1% for 70 years.

The Journal looks at countries like Spain, France, and Italy that face outsized political and economic risks in the coming years. These economies are facing slowing or even negative population growth, historically high debt burdens, widening economic inequality, and the rise of populist parties with unorthodox economic philosophies. None of these trends should inspire the confidence of lenders, yet the search for yield has inspired investors to front the money nonetheless.

Why it matters: That bond investors are unafraid of a slow-growing, highly-indebted, and perennially-gridlocked country like Italy defaulting on debt over the next thirty or more years tells us that:

  • Central bank stimulus has helped make government borrowing cheaper;
  • The market thinks that countries have a much higher capacity for debt than politicians do;
  • Significantly higher inflation isn't on the way;
  • The U.S. should seriously consider issuing debt at maturities longer than 30 years. Locking in today's interest rates for 70 or more years would be a godsend to future budgeters.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began

Expand chart
COVID Tracking Project

The U.S. confirmed at least 83,010 coronavirus cases on Friday, the country's highest daily total since the pandemic started, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

By the numbers: Friday's total surpassed the U.S.'s previous record set on July 17 when 76,842 cases were recorded. 

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.
4 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.

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