This article originally appeared on HBR.org
For most of the last 15 years, capital has been cheap. Since 2009, the after-tax cost of borrowing for some large companies has been below the rate of inflation, making their debt in real terms cost-free. And for much of this time, the stock market moved steadily upward, consistent with historically low costs of equity. We estimate that in early 2022, the weighted-average cost of capital (WACC) for the average company in the S&P 500 hovered below 6%.