Will Bernanke Become ‘Hurricane Ben’?
by Gary North
This report will deal with quantitative easing (QE). To prepare you for this report, I ask you to watch a short video. It is under 3 minutes. This video is the best thing I have seen on quantitative easing. I wish Bernanke would be this forthright, but I suppose this will never happen.
I will assume from this point on that you have seen the video. If you deal with colleagues who have been confused about what QE really means, forward it to them.
The problem with the video is this: the economics profession, the financial services industry, the financial media, and Paul Krugman have not been able intellectually to make the connection that the interviewer did. He did it effortlessly, but the professionals who are paid to explain things to the public are on the payrolls of special-interest groups that have a direct financial stake in the continuation of the present system. When men are paid very well to see things in a particular way, they become impervious to alternative explanations of causes and effects.
FROM HELICOPTER TO HURRICANE
Bernanke became famous in 2002 because of a line in a speech that he delivered in late 2002. It was on combating price deflation. He described policies that in fact were being implemented as he spoke: Bush’s huge (in those days) Keynesian deficit and Greenspan’s monetary expansion.
In practice, the effectiveness of anti-deflation policy could be significantly enhanced by cooperation between the monetary and fiscal authorities. A broad-based tax cut, for example, accommodated by a program of open-market purchases to alleviate any tendency for interest rates to increase, would almost certainly be an effective stimulant to consumption and hence to prices. Even if households decided not to increase consumption but instead re-balanced their portfolios by using their extra cash to acquire real and financial assets, the resulting increase in asset values would lower the cost of capital and improve the balance sheet positions of potential borrowers. A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous “helicopter drop” of money.