Events are unfolding that could lead us interesting times. The US corollary to Mr Osborne’s gamble is a gamble by Mr Bernanke – of equal intent, but with far greater magnitude – to kick start the American economy. This is something of an untried experiment, to combine fiscal tightening with monetary easing in order to fine tune the economy, and we have yet to see how well it will go. There is a real danger of diminishing returns (QE2 will yield less stimulus per £ or $ injected) that may render the medicine unhelpful. More fiscal stimulus would do the trick, but there is little appetite for this at present.
The fears of QE2 inducing a bout of inflation still seem to be far fetched. That could be an effect, but the output gap is absolutely huge in the US. Economists might talk about the ‘output gap’ in an impersonal way, but in the US, ‘output gap’ means people living in cars, people without healthcare, people who have to give up their education. Perhaps economists, who are in no position to talk about moral hazard, ought to give some thought to the consequences of their trade a bit more?
© The European Futures Observatory 2010