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Commercial paper comeback

Here's an obscure but important measure of credit availability and financial market health that shows dramatic improvement year to date: nonfinancial commercial paper issuance (i.e., short-term obligations of large, generally highly-rated companies, typically used to fund short-term credit needs such as accounts receivable and inventories). That this measure has jumped over 50% in less than eight months is a very positive sign in my book. For one, it means that credit markets are vibrant: not only are large corporations willing to take on extra debt, but investors are willing to buy it. And since commercial paper rates are extraordinarily low (about 0.25% for 60-day paper), the availability of very cheap financing appears to be encouraging companies to expand their operations.

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