Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Paul De Grauwe — The sad consequences of the fear of QE

Since Milton Friedman we have all become monetarists. In order to raise inflation it will be necessary to increase the growth rate of the money stock. This requires that the ECB increase the money base. And to achieve the latter there is only one practical instrument, ie, an open-market purchase of government bonds. There is no other way to raise inflation than through an increase in the money base and a bond-buying programme is the time-tested way to achieve this.…
But as stressed by many observers, QE alone may not do the job. It is necessary but not sufficient. The fact that it is not sufficient, however, should not lead to the conclusion that it can be dispensed with. Even if little else is done, QE should have a significant effect on the exchange rate of the euro. By increasing the supply of money base the ECB will contribute to a further weakening of the euro vis-à-vis other currencies such as the dollar, the pound and the yuan, thereby increasing exports and boosting inflation.…
What about an EZ nation defaulting on it bonds.
 When the central bank writes down the … bonds, the value of its assets declines. The counterpart on the liabilities side of the central bank’s balance sheet is a decline in equity. A central bank, however, does not need equity. It can easily live with a negative equity. When the equity of the central bank declines there is no need to call upon taxpayers “to foot the bill”. There is no bill to be paid.
Unfortunately, the ECB (and many other central banks) keep this fiction of the need for equity alive, by asking the participating governments to “recapitalise” the bank. But such a recapitalisation is also a purely accounting convention without implications for taxpayers. It implies that governments place bonds on the ECB’s balance sheet. These bonds then create the same circular movement of interest payments, ie, the governments make interest payments to the ECB and the latter refunds these back to the same governments. No taxpayers are involved.
The Economist
The sad consequences of the fear of QE
Paul De Grauwe | John Paulson Chair in Political Economy, London School Of Economics

3 comments:

PeterP said...

So much wrong with this, it is hard to know when to start. And all spoken with total confidence in this nonsense. These guys are seriously lost...

Ralph Musgrave said...

I agree with PeterP. I've suspected for some time that De Grauwe is a mini-Rogoff: someone who has managed to attain respectability despite talking nonsense.

Neil Wilson said...

I'm waiting for the "so let's all pray to God for our salvation" line at the end of these speeches.

Because let's face it - it is a sermon from a holy book with little grounding in reality.