John McDonnell proposed People’s Quantitative Easing shortly after Jeremy Corbyn was made leader of the Labour Party. It might have been wiser at the time to promise nothing controversial because the party establishment were in a state of shock at Corbyn’s win and were hostile to radical economic policies.
McDonnell has since gone quiet on the idea. However, the concept appears to be gaining traction as Adair Turner and Martin Wolf have each recently advocated “helicopter drops” for monetary policy, as an aide to the sluggish world economy. The helicopter drop is an idea of Milton Friedman whereby the central bank would print off cash and give it directly to the general population.
McDonnell’s idea is to use money created through Quantitative Easing to invest in infrastructure rather than buying government bonds. The latter has had the effect of boosting the stock market without boosting capital investment by the listed companies. In fact, the low interest environment has often resulted in companies borrowing money to buy back their own shares rather than investing in expansion. In America, Apple has issued bonds to pay dividends to share holders, in order to avoid bringing home their foreign earnings. As long as it stays abroad they don’t have to pay tax. This wasn’t the intention of the policy. Read the rest of this entry »