October 06, 2014

QEs were wasted by dangerously overcrowding safe-havens while leaving risky but valuable bays unexplored

Sir, Martin Wolf explores if quantitative easing “An unconventional tool” has worked” October 6. He fends off much criticism of QE with arguments that could make a savvy defense lawyer blush, namely that it should not be accused of weaknesses and risks that it shares with other monetary policies.

My continuous criticism of QE, and that Wolf ignores, is that if QE is done in conjunction with the current credit risk-weighted capital requirements for banks, it will help the safe havens to become dangerously overcrowded, while “the risky” bays, those the economy most need, will remain totally and even more dangerously unexplored.

Wolf mentions the possibility of a “helicopter drop”, retrospectively, but, for that to happen, the QE liquidity would have to be soaked up and returned without the existence of the silly guidance mechanism used by bank regulators.

There can’t be any sturdy economic growth in sending our banks to occupy the terrain where orphans, widows and pension funds used to roam, in order to wait for money to drop on them.

Which also leaves us with one question about the civilian casualties of QE. Where do risk-adverse savers save when what is “most-safe”, pays interest rates below the risk-free rate, as a result of sovereign debt being subsidized by the fact that banks do not have to hold much or any capital against it?