In the last six months, Republicans gave up being a party that pretends to care about budget deficits as they happily pushed through large tax cuts (roughly 0.7 percent of GDP over the next decade) and big increases in spending (roughly 0.7 percent of GDP over the next two years). The deficit picture looks much worse today than it did a year ago.
While the few remaining deficit hawks at the Washington Post and the Peter Peterson–funded organizations are screaming, the question serious people should be asking is: why don't the markets don't share their concerns? In particular, the bond market, where the "bond vigilantes" live, should be going nuts with much larger deficits now being projected for as far as the eye can see.
It is true that rates have gone up. At just under 2.9 percent, the interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds is almost half a percentage point higher than it was a year ago. But a 2.9 percent rate is still very low by any reasonable standard. After all, it was over 3.0 percent at the end of 2013 and it was over 5.0 percent in the late 1990s as the deficits were turning to surpluses.
The current 2.9 percent rate is also well below what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had projected just a couple of years ago when it expected deficits to stay on their prior no tax cut path. In January of 2016, CBO projected that the interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds would be 3.7 percent by now. This means that even with the recent run-up, long-term interests are still 0.8 percentage points below what CBO had projected without any major increases in the budget deficit.
This might suggest that the concerns that deficits would send interest rates through the roof have little basis in reality. After all, long-term interest rates are driven by expectations, and unless investors in the bond market have hugely different expectations about the size of deficits than folks in Washington, they apparently don't believe that the larger deficits we are now looking at are that big a deal.