"Government debt instruments like TIPS are useful as media of exchange, specifically as collateral, goes Williamson's argument. Those who own these instruments therefore enjoy a stream of liquidity services that gets embodied in their price as a liquidity premium. Rising TIPS prices (and falling yields) could therefore be entirely unrelated to returns on capital and wholly a function of widening liquidity premia. Bernanke and Summers can't make broad assumptions about returns on capital on the basis of market-driven yields without knowing something about these invisible premia. (Assiduous readers may remember that I've used a version of the liquidity premium argument to try to explain the three decade long bond bull market, as well as the odd twin bull markets in bond and equity prices.)
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