The Positive Money Local Group in Hackney organised an evening of talks and discussion on Quantitative Easing for People: the idea of spending or distributing newly created money into the economy to stimulate growth, instead of the standard method of lending it to financial markets.
At a time when we hear about public disengagement from politics, it came as a pleasant surprise to see so many people turn out on a sunny Sunday evening to hear a panel of speakers discussing a somewhat technical aspect of economics. So great was the interest that a supply of camping chairs was brought in to seat everyone. On the bill was an all-star line-up of speakers at the forefront of research on QE for People.
Founder of Positive Money, Ben Dyson, opened the evening with a summary of the current state of the economic system – a system underpinned by private banks’ privilege to create new money through their lending processes.
Frank van Lerven, researcher at Positive Money, continued by explaining the current practices of Quantitative Easing and how these have been largely ineffective. Whereas standard QE mainly supports the price of financial assets, QE for People would more likely contribute to recovery by directing the stimulus straight into the real economy.
Eric Lonergan, hedge fund manager, writer and economist, followed by making the case for supporting demand in the economy by making spending power available by injecting the required cash through QE for People.
Following Eric, the stage was taken by performance poet Hannah Chutzpah, and the audience were allowed a space to connect to the subject matter through her more intuitive and personal approach. Hannah’s powerful poetry reminded everyone of the modern tragedy of young adulthood in a hand-to-mouth economy with no prospect of putting down any roots of financial security (“when you have had more jobs than sexual partners, something must be wrong”).
Audience participation was welcomed for the last session of the evening. The discussion covered some important and practical points such as the mechanisms that would stop money creation from leading into run-away inflation. The conversation took a deeper turn when a member of the audience posed a question about the nature of money and whether there was any karma attached to it. The speakers willingly engaged with the challenge, creating lingering thoughts and questions to be revisited over the coming days. The gathering was held in Passing Clouds, after all!
A good effort from a member of the audience, nominated as the jargon-police for the evening, kept the speakers’ terminology in check. Regardless, the best explanation for sovereign bond was offered by Hannah, the economically aware poet!
The aim of the evening was to make the argument for QE for People accessible to an audience of non-economists. Feedback received by the organisers suggests that the combination of facts, philosophy and entertainment was a step in the right direction.
Report by Saija Lukkaroinen & John Campbell from Hackney local group