Thursday, March 05, 2009

Printing Money Is A Bad Roll Of The Dice

The government is pinning its hopes on a last, bad roll of the dice to dig itself out of its economic hell-hole, as the Bank of England starts the dangerous and disreputable gamble of 'printing money'. Spun as 'a good thing', this is a short term fix to get the government over the hill of the next election. The wheelbarrow of cash is teetering on a slippery slope. 

The Orange Party is in a long queue of people happy to give sound, realistic advice on how to get out of this hopeless mess without having to resort to borrowing billions and printing money, then spending it all like there is no tomorrow. But for the government of course, there is no tomorrow. 

Playing economic politics with the country and people's livelihoods is a despicable act, leaving others to pick up the tab and clear up the mess. 

The government is drinking at the last chance saloon. Printing money is an admission of failure which will get it off the hook, while a deluded Brown and his hapless chancellor lose control of the country's finances and their senses. 

Floundering in economic cloud cuckoo land, their only way out is a barrow full of banknotes, expanding the money supply with a boost of £75 billion now rising up to £150 billion later. 

The country is hopelessly in debt and borrowing is at a record high. But the government still wants to 'print money' to fund a reckless borrowing binge and ludicrous public spending spree. 

Any government which has to resort to 'printing money' is on its beam ends, with the threat of a new bout of inflation always lurking round the corner.

With the borrowing debt set to run into trillions of pounds, the abhorrent and disreputable 'printing money' option, euphemistically called 'quantitative easing'  is the only bullet left in its depleted armoury.   

Another last roll of the dice came from the Bank of England today with another cut in interest rates down to 0.5%, another blow for savers that won't make a jot of difference in the real world.

The Bank has already tried slashing the official rate with the most aggressive reduction in borrowing costs in 100 years to try to head off a full-blown economic depression.

Now the Bank is planning 'quantitative easing' but inflation will evaporate in coming months. In fact the new fear is deflation. The real economy in the real world of the RPI is already deflating. Printing wads of banknotes, though not literally, will just make matters worse. 

It is a short-sighted and short-term way to reflate but will help get the government of the hook until after the general election. 

In the last few months successive cuts to the bank rate failed to get the economy moving. For Brown and the government the solution is even more reckless, short-term fixes. 

It's clear the government hasn't a cat in hell's chance of funding its ridiculous borrowing binge but printing money is fraught with long-term dangers.

Anyone who takes a scant look at economic history can see that. 

Japan tried and failed. Printing money had disastrous effects in Weimar Germany in the Twenties, leading to rampant inflation, the Nazi Party and people needing wheelbarrows to carry the cash to buy a loaf of bread. 

In modern-day Zimbabwe, Mugabbe prints worthless banknotes. Debt ridden Latin-American countries became a laughing stock, as they tried the same trick. 

Brown's government will be the laughing stock of the world. 

Printing money is a recipe for disaster but it does boost the money supply and inject liquidity into the economy in the short-term. 

Slashing interest rates and printing more money is a quick fix which would release a flood of extra cash but there's no guarantee that would find its way through to the real economy as businesses and families tighten their belts and hang on to any cash to pay off debts.

Printing money is exactly the option used by Obama's new administration faced with a trillion dollar debt, to fool some of the people some of the time. The US Fed tried the trick but with little effect.

Even if it does do the job it could dilute the value of sterling and kick-off inflation, needing higher interest rates to control it. 

The hope is that when the Bank of England decides enough is enough, it can act independently from government interference to make the right decisions on economic not political grounds.

But the trick is knowing when enough is enough and that's a hopeless guessing game.

Lies, deceit and spin go hand in hand with the New Labour project but it's in the death throes of the disaster of the economy where the public feel it most. 

Soon a new government will have to confront the underlying problems in the economy. 

Even the combined might of ex-chancellor Ken Clarke and economic oracle Vince Cable will be hard-pressed to turn the country around.

Picture: Guys and Dolls, Luck Be A Lady Tonight. Illustration, Jody Hewgill

1 comment:

Oldrightie said...

"In modern-day Zimbabwe, Mugabbe prints worthless banknotes. Debt ridden Latin-American countries became a laughing stock, as they tried the same trick."

Yup, it will be the same here. Sod The Country, anything to lessen the defeat at the polls.