Abandon helicopters. Use bombers. Bomb Germany, France, Italy, Greece, the entire eurozone. Bomb them with banknotes, cash, anything to boost demand. The money must go straight to households, not to banks. Banks have had their day and miserably failed to spend, argues Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, 26th Nov 2014
Here’s a short extract:
Five years after the financial crash it is nearly unbelievable that the eurozone’s lords and masters now confront renewed recession. They seem inert before deflation, subflation, lowflation or whatever lets them avoid the word “scandal”.
Ever since the credit crunch the continent has been suffering what Keynes called a classic liquidity trap. There is too little money around and thus a chronic shortage of demand. People have too little to spend, which means shops close, supplies dry up and no one invests.
Britain and the US supposedly met this challenge by “printing money”, by quantitative easing (QE). This was a confidence trick. It claimed to release money “into the economy” to stimulate borrowing and thus spending. It merely channelled billions into bank vaults and boosted reserves. What did spill into the economy went to stock market inflation and obscene bonuses. In Britain it also leaked into the mad world of sub-prime housing subsidies. Otherwise, demand has remained dangerously sluggish.
Germany continues to defy the two great minds of 20th-century economics, Keynes and Friedman. They clashed on much but agreed on the need to “loosen” money supply to avert recession. Keynes buried it in the ground and had the poor dig it up. Friedman more generously dropped it from helicopters.
Such methods have long been ridiculed as vulgar by conventional economists and politicians.To them economics is a branch of ethics. Monetary policy should punish the poor for its extravagance in booms, not “reward” the undeserving.
Yet versions of helicopter money (HM) are now emerging into public debate. The essence of HM is not to boost government spending – and thus challenge “budgetary austerity” – but to print money off-budget to avert deflation. It is like giving blood to a shattered body: without it, all other remedies are a waste of time.
Such “neo-monetarism” is aired by the Financial Times’s Martin Wolf in his new and exhaustive study of the credit crunch, Shifts and Shocks. He suggests “permanent helicopter money”, with government deficits simply covered by printing presses unless and until inflation returns. It has been discussed sympathetically by Tim Congdon, by the Americans Mark Blyth and Eric Lonergan in the magazine Foreign Affairs, and by the former City regulator, Lord Turner.
Read the whole article here.