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February 2017

Good Money

From The Public Discourse:

The most recent instance of using monetary policy to avoid making politically hard decisions is called “quantitative easing.” In simple terms, this involves keeping distressed economies ticking by increasing the money supply via the central bank’s buying of bonds and other financial assets from private banks and other financial institutions. The goal is to encourage private lending, which in turn increases the money supply, thereby stimulating the economy—but also avoiding or putting off the painful process of allowing fiscally unsustainable businesses to be liquidated.

Like all addictive stimulants, quantitative easing provides short-term stimulation at the price of some undesirable long-term effects. In market economies, for example, people need to be able to distinguish between viable and nonviable companies so that they can invest in the former and avoid the losses associated with the latter’s probable failure. Quantitative easing, however, helps to keep unsustainable businesses afloat. This distorts the information that people need to make prudent investment choices. That helps to undermine opportunity cost in the economy and facilitates serious misallocations of financial capital. And this means less economic growth over the long term.