On 28 December 2018, Italy issued government bonds maturing in 2028 at an effective interest rate of 2.7%1. Interest rates like this combined with the scale of Italian public debt (157% of GDP) mean Italian taxpayers spend more on public debt interest than they do on education. In 2015, Italy spent 4.1% of GDP on public debt interest and only 2.8% of GDP on education.
This week, Switzerland issued bonds maturing in 2030 at an effective interest rate of -0.041%2. Negative interest rates like this mean Switzerland sometimes makes money borrowing.
Buyers of Swiss bonds are reckoning on the stability of the Swiss franc and the near certainty of repayment.
1 Italian public bonds maturing on 01.12.2028 with a coupon of 2.8% were sold at a price of 101.04% on 28 December 2018.
2 Public bonds of the Swiss Confederation maturing on 27.05.2030 with a coupon of 0.5% were sold at a price of 106.15% on 9 January 2019.