There are not many things that last forever. Actually despite death (and for a romanticist maybe love) everything else fades over time. Infinity though is mathematically described as continuation forever and without limit of any kind.
When talking about infinity, people often tend to think of eternity, which by definition however is not the same but a part of infinity with no limit of time. Humans further tend to connect eternity with a positive connotation of “what lasts longer is better”. However, this thinking turns out to be tricky – we mix up ever with never. Why should something that lasts longer automatically be better? A life that lasts longer (maybe being artificially prolonged by med tech) does not have to be better, does it? Being “better” can instead be connected to how you spend your lifetime rather than how long it lasts. Thus, often Forever’s Not So Long…
Yet, moving away from philosophical questions of infinity allows us to discuss the financial questions related to it. Today, different sources (Financial Times, BBC, AFP) report that the United Kingdom thinks of issuing bonds that will run ad infinitum also called “super bonds” or “eternity bonds”. Right now due to the the lowest base rate since the Bank of England was founded in 1694, British gilt yields are at a record low. Thus, HM government thinks that with such perfect conditions (and with a rating downgrade looming) it is now time to, again after e.g. 1751 or 1932, issue bonds with no fixed maturity date.
Thought behind it: The longer the better!
And here it gets tricky again. How much market demand will a bond with relatively low fixed coupons that is never being paid back create? In other words, why should anyone buy a bond that will never mature, pays low interest in an uncertain future with even more uncertain inflation rates?
And again, lasting longer is not automatically better…
Still it seems that the British government tends to think like most political powers nowadays do – they borrow money and time without limit. With “super bonds” they kick the can as far down the road as possible.
And yes, we have to admit infinity is pretty far…but in the end infinity is just a mathematical law. Most things won’t last forever – not life, nor trust or debt.
PS.: I have taken the liberty to alter the Union Jack a bit and hereby suggest it shall be renamed to “Infinity Jack”.