State borrowing inevitably going to get trickier
The National Treasury Management Agency's (NTMA) charge out of the traps, expected as early as this morning, will test the market in more ways than one.
Wholesale regulatory changes, collected into the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive or Mifid II, come into effect across Europe today and, at a purely technical level, both human and IT systems may well struggle to cope.
Just as importantly, this week marks the start of European Central Bank (ECB) efforts to wean financial markets off quantitative easing (QE), the easy-to-digest liquidity it has pumped into them since mid 2012.
The €30bn the ECB will spend in the bond markets this month is massive, but it is only half the level it had been spending. That means bond-hungry investors are under less pressure to compete with the central bank in order to buy assets. Investors therefore can expect to pay less for bonds as a result, which is good news for the likes of pension funds that own bonds and get a higher interest yield return the less they pay.
But it also means the State can expect to pay more to borrow this year, and as growth continues, debt-servicing costs look on course to continue to rise well into the future.
For a highly indebted country, something we've become since the crash, that trend is negative.
For now the changes won't dent the overall State finances too much, and 2018 should be the first since the crash when the national debt, in real terms, doesn't increase. That's because we'll no longer be borrowing to plug the gap between tax and spending.
It's not before time. Current borrowing costs are exceptional by historic standards - they won't last.