Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Lets print some money says the treasury

I saw this in today's Guardian:

"The Treasury today signalled it could be necessary for the Bank of England to print more money to deal with the threat of deflation. With the British economy in recession and interest rates at an all-time low, the government fears the move could be necessary to stop inflation dropping below its 2% target.

Asked about the prospect of what is know in economic terms as quantitative easing – turning on the printing presses to literally print more cash – a Treasury spokesman said: "It would be prudent to consider all the options." The decision to do so would be taken by the Bank of England, following consultation with the chancellor"

I have couple of questions.

It was the Bank of England, the Treasury and the FSA, who through a series of appalling policy mistakes, have brought the UK economy to the dreadful mess we find ourselves in today. We are locked into the greatest banking crisis in a century; GDP is tanking and the government is about to clock up an 8 percent of GDP fiscal deficit. Now they what to print money. Given the policy disasters they have already inflicted upon us; can we trust their judgement?

Printing money is a declaration of war on savers. Inflation will pick up and the value of bank deposits will quickly evaporate. It is a strategy of punishing the prudent and rewarding the feckless. Does Brown and the gang think that this is strategy for long term economic success?

Have they looked at the value of sterling recently? It is falling like a stone. In case they have forgotton, the exchange rate is the relative price of two currencies. In the supply of one currency increases relative to another, the price of the first currency will fall. Are these jokers prepared to see sterling fall further? Here, I mean much further. How does parity with the euro sound?

Has anyone running shop down at the Bank of England or the Treasury bothered to look out the size of the foreign currency liabilities of the UK banking system? If they did, they would notice that the epithet "a big number" doesn't quite capture it. It is a knee-tremblingly large number. If they let sterling go, we will quickly find ourselves in the same sorry state as Iceland. UK banks will not be able to meet those foreign liabilities. This country's banking system will default and the taxpayer will be paying for the clean up well into the next century.

Have they given any serious thought to the prospect that a monetary easing could see inflation acelerate far more quickly than anticipated? Suppose for a moment that this quantatitive easing led to inflation rapidly picking up to say 10 percent. The MPC would either have to accept this inflation rate or tighten up on interest rates. The latter would create a recession; the former would return us to the dark days of the 1970s.

Finally, why is the treasury signalling the need for more monetary growth? I had thought that the Bank of England was independent. It seems I was wrong about that.


Nick von Mises said...

These are all valid concerns three years from now. For the short term, this cash is just going to stockpile on the bank's balance sheets. Velocity will drop to zero and prices still fall.

I'd stay in cash another couple of years then look to buy real assets.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the virtue is in 2% inflation and the negative in it going lower. Surely it is fairest to those who have worked and saved that inflation is as near to 0% as possible.

B. in C.

Anonymous said...

So many questions, so few answers.

Anonymous said...

Some of the ideas now floating around the Bank and HMT would have been inconceivable two years ago.

It is a mark of how bad things have become.

Anonymous said...

So what's next for GBP/JPY? It's fallen a long way so far... does it have more to go?

Anonymous said...

"GBP" - do you mean the Gordon Brown Pound?

Anonymous said...

"GBP" = Gordon Brown Peso ;)

Anonymous said...

Nice one, Anon.