Michael Woodford and Adair Turner Agree: CBs Won’t (and Shouldn’t) Sell the Bonds Back

Old news: April 3. But still: Following up on yesterday’s post, see here from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph (emphasis mine):

“All this talk of exit strategies is deeply negative,” [Woodford] told a London Business School seminar on the merits of Helicopter money, or “overt monetary financing”.

He said the Bank of Japan made the mistake of reversing all its money creation from 2001 to 2006 once it thought the economy was safely out of the woods. But Japan crashed back into deeper deflation as soon the Lehman crisis hit.

“If we are going to scare the horses, let’s scare them properly. Let’s go further and eliminate government debt on the bloated balance sheet of central banks,” he said. This could done with a flick of the fingers. The debt would vanish.

Lord Turner, head of the now defunct Financial Services Authority, made the point more delicately. “We must tell people that if necessary, QE will turn out to be permanent.”

The write-off should cover “previous fiscal deficits”, the stock of public debt. It should be “post-facto monetary finance”.

Lord Turner knows this breaks the ultimate taboo, and that taboos evolve for sound anthropological reasons, but he invokes the doctrine of the lesser evil. “The danger in this environment is that if we deny ourselves this option, people will find other ways of dealing with deflation, and that would be worse.”

A breakdown of the global trading system might be one, armed conquest or Fascism may be others – or all together, as in the 1930s.

Taboos are made to be broken. The Fed should just burn all those bonds. Welcome to MMT World.

Also some very interesting history in that article that I wasn’t aware of, a great counterpoint to the standard-issue What-About-Weimar!? hyperhysteria:

Less known is the spectacular success of Takahashi Korekiyo in Japan in the very different circumstances of the early 1930s. He fired a double-barreled blast of monetary and fiscal stimulus together, helped greatly by a 40pc fall in the yen.

The Bank of Japan was ordered to fund the public works programme of the government. Within two years, Japan was booming again, the first major country to break free of the Great Depression. Within three years, surging tax revenues allowed Mr Korekiyo to balance the budget. It was magic.

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.

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