fear of quantitative easing

FT columnist Samuel Brittan today examines “the arcane dispute about so-called quantitative easing”.

The most serious objection is that overstimulated bank lending may create asset bubbles which it might be difficult, but not impossible, to deflate. I would be among the first to argue that an optimal anti-recessionary package should include fiscal as well as monetary stimulation. But political resistance to that is even greater, owing to a mistaken analogy between household and government budgets.

Samuel Brittan, “No need to worry about too much easy money“, Financial Times, 1 November 2013.

Sir Samuel complains that quantitative easing is an ugly and unhelpful term for what used to be called “open-market operations”, i.e. central bank purchases of bonds in the open market.

You can access past columns, including (eventually) this one, at www.samuelbrittan.co.uk. There you will find much to read, including an autobiography that ends with these paragraphs:

The majority of economic writers and their readers are now most interested in the brave new world of digital technology. The new technology undoubtedly marks a big advance in communications and in bringing together of the world in a global economy, but no more so than past advances such as railways, electricity, the internal combustion engine or (the best analogy) the Transatlantic cable which was inaugurated in 1868.

Information technology will not enable capitalism to escape from the cycle of bubble and burst which has accompanied it from the beginning. At most better policies can hope to mitigate its severities and try to staunch the secondary and tertiary effects.

Despite my reluctance to go overboard for digital methods, I have nevertheless astonished some people by establishing a personal website – www.samuelbrittan.co.uk. It remains to be seen whether this will be successful in drawing attention to the essays and reflections to which I wish to draw readers.

Samuel Brittan, “A professional autobiography“, published originally in Exemplary Economists, volume II: Europe, Asia and Australasia, edited by R E Backhouse and R Middleton (Edward Elgar, 2000).

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