Business: Stretching the Debt

When Robert B. Anderson Jr. took over as Secretary of the Treasury about a year ago, the nation's finances were—as even retiring Secretary George M. Humphrey agreed—"in a mess." The Treasury had to refinance some $75 billion (28%) of the U.S. debt within a year, and the attrition —demands for cash—in refinancing operations had been running as high as an alarming 30%. Secretary Anderson set out to lengthen the average maturity of the federal debt, which had shrunk to 57 months, thus keep the Treasury from going to the market so often. He hoped to lessen competition with municipal and corporate...