Monetarno spodbujanje in povečevanje socialnih razlik

Thomas Pascoe v The Telegraphu dokazuje, da politika monetarnega sproščanja (quantitative easing, QE; t.j. ko centralne banke pumpajo denar v gospodarstvo tako, da odkupujejo državne obveznice), kot jo izvajajo najpomembnejše centralne  banke (FED, ECB, Bank of England) vpliva na povečevanje razlik med bogatimi in revnimi. In to dokazuje z nekaj stiliziranimi dejstvi: število milijarderjev se povečuje, samo lani jih je bilo na Forbesovi lestvici med 1,426 milijarderji (v dolarjih) kar 211 novih. Premoženje v vseh oblikah je trdno ali raste (obveznice in delniški trgi), valute so stabilne, na drugi strani pa inflacija požira realne plače zaposlenih in realno vrednost pokojnin in socialnih prejemkov. Tisti s premoženjem v katerikoli obliki naj bi torej pridobivali, tisti spodaj zgolj s plačami ali socialnimi prejemki pa naj bi izgubljali.

In vse to naj bi bila posledica monetarnega spodbujanja gospodarstev v depresiji. Kot pravi Pascoe:

This has a lot to do with how QE operates. Unlike straight money printing, it is designed to transfer money to banks, not to the consumer or to the government. The banks swap their existing government bonds for newly printed money. In theory, the banks now lend this cash on the high street to consumers and businesses. In reality, that has been a problem. Burnt by the financial crisis, banks have imposed tougher lending criteria at a time when creditworthiness is impaired. As such, they cannot lend. Instead the money ends up in the trading account. It gets spent on financial instruments in proportion to the greed (equities) or fear (bonds) of the institution in question. The main reason that QE has not been catastrophically inflationary is that so little of it has filtered down to the high street. For the most part, it has simply pushed up values across the board in the financial markets.

While those at the top have done well from the magic money mountain that was summoned into being by QE, those who have done badly are those with relatively fixed wages and no assets. As the nominal price of assets increases, and wage growth lags inflation, the distance between the renting class and the owning classes grows greater still.

For the asset wealthy, however, this is less of a problem. The same money printing which causes inflation in the real economy also props up asset prices. Inflation of 3pc per year is less onerous when the FTSE is making 6pc a year, as it was last year.

Despite uprating in line with CPI inflation, those hit hardest of all are likely to be those who rely on state benefits – from pensions downwards.

Tukaj bi seveda lahko končali – monetarno spodbujanje je škodljivo, saj pomaga samo bogatim, “delavski razred” pa bo zaradi sedanje, sploh pa zaradi bodoče inflacije ob tako velikem pumpanju denarja v gospodarstvo naredilo še bolj revne.

Ampak Pascoe je naredil nekaj logičnih napak v svojem razmišljanju, na katere ga je prijazno opozoril diskusant Dennis Cooper pod njegovo kolumno. Ključno je seveda to, da vsi spregledajo, da z monetarnim spodbujanjem dejansko centralne banke financirajo državne proračune (česar uradno in neposredno sicer ne smejo) in s tem seveda tudi financirajo socialne politike vlad. Kot pravi Cooper:

“Unlike straight money printing, it is designed to transfer money to banks, not to the consumer or to the government. The banks swap their existing government bonds for newly printed money.”

Firstly most of the gilts bought by the Bank of England have not been bought from banks, which are usually relatively small investors in gilts, they’ve been bought from other gilts investors such as pension funds and insurance companies.

Secondly if a bank or any other investor wants to swap part of their holdings of gilts for money they don’t have to wait for the Bank of England to come along and offer to buy them: there is a huge and liquid market, and if they want cash they can just sell their gilts in the market without any problem.

Thirdly Pascoe disregards the fact that at the same time as the Bank is buying up previously issued gilts from gilts investors the Treasury is selling new gilts to much the same set of investors at much the same rate.

For God’s sake, just how much financial acumen do you need to immediately smell a rat when one arm of the state, the Bank of England, is busily buying up previously issued gilts two days a week, while on two other days in the same week another arm of the state, the Treasury, is busily selling new gilts to fund the government’s budget deficit, and none of this is being kept secret but is being published as it happens?

So of course it is designed to transfer money to the government, and minus transmission losses as it passes through the gilts market that is precisely what it does.

And while it doesn’t then go to the consumer as such, it gets spent paying the government’s bills including those for public sector salaries and welfare benefits and old age pensions, and all those recipients are consumers.

After four years it’s staggering that the media continue to collaborate with the government in misleading the public on this.

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