thought-provoking article interest-bearing loanOrdinarily, you would not hyphenate these compounds when they come after the noun. Thus:
The loan was interest bearing.But what about:
The article was thought provoking.Here we have an ambiguity, for the word thought could act as a verb, link to the verb was, and leave the adjective provoking all by itself:
The article was thought provoking.But we mean thought as a noun linked to provoking to form a compound adjective. Thus we must hyphenate:
The article was thought-provoking.In no other way, except by rewriting the sentence, can we make our meaning clear.
15-year-old reform bread-and-butter issues educational-reform efforts information-services industryNow flash ahead to the current century. On Tuesday, July 24, 2001, we find these correctly hyphenated compound adjectives on page C1 of The Wall Street Journal:
high-quality bonds bond-market diversification inflation-indexed Treasury bonds second-quarter labor costsBut wait! Even the mighty can flub. On the same page, in the article about Novellus's convertible securities, we find a hyphen in the compound noun short term. If the expression appeared as an adjective, then the hyphen would be correct. But I can't find any rule requiring a hyphen in the noun form:
[The company] could even make some money in the short-term from the transaction.In the same column, a compound adjective is missing a necessary hyphen:
credit rating agenciesPerhaps I'll have to retract my statement about The Wall Street Journal's consistency in editing.