Willis is 79 and retired. Like millions of other older Americans, he owns an investment portfolio that includes a bank savings account and certificates of deposit, for which returns have withered since the Federal Reserve cut rates to near zero in 2008. Willis, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, has already taken advantage of one of the biggest benefits of easy money by refinancing.

“We aren’t getting as much interest,” he said, while out strolling in Alexandria’s historic Old Town shopping district. “At this stage, I’m not going to refinance anything else.”

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