Tags: Stiglitz | QE | inflation | growth

Stiglitz: Monetary Easing Won’t Spark Inflation or Growth

Thursday, 04 Oct 2012 12:54 PM

Stimulus measures carried out by the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank (ECB) and other monetary authorities won’t fuel the inflationary pressures that many have feared, but they also won’t bring the desired recovery and growth, said Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz.

The Fed is currently buying $40 billion a month worth of mortgage-backed securities from banks, a stimulus tool known as quantitative easing (QE) that pumps liquidity into the financial system to encourage investing and hiring.

The ECB, meanwhile, has unveiled a program to buy unlimited amounts of sovereign debt from troubled countries to lower borrowing costs.

Editor's Note: The Final Turning Predicted for America. See Proof.

Many have said they fear such policies will plant the seeds for inflation down the road, but that’s not going to happen, Stiglitz wrote in Project Syndicate piece, because the global economy is marked by underutilized productive capacity with tepid growth and little hope for a pickup in the pace of recovery, which will keep prices in check.

Yet, pumping banks full of liquidity won’t spur lending and recovery if the demand is not there, so the benefits of QE will be as muted as inflation.

“[T]he stimulus that is needed – on both sides of the Atlantic – is a fiscal stimulus. Monetary policy has proven ineffective, and more of it is unlikely to return the economy to sustainable growth,” Stiglitz wrote.

Deep-rooted tax and spending reforms are needed in the United States and Europe before the world is to see blue skies again.

Plus most liquidity is going into bigger banks, not the smaller ones that lend to small businesses. And real estate prices in the United States remain soft, which further hampers lending.

“For both Europe and America, the danger now is that politicians and markets believe that monetary policy can revive the economy. Unfortunately, its main impact at this point is to distract attention from measures that would truly stimulate growth, including an expansionary fiscal policy and financial-sector reforms that boost lending,” Stiglitz wrote.

“The current downturn, already a half-decade long, will not end any time soon. That, in a nutshell, is what the Fed and the ECB are saying. The sooner our leaders acknowledge it, the better.”

The Fed’s current round of QE is the third one since the 2008 financial collapse and will continue on an open-ended basis until the Fed decides that the labor market and broader economy have improved.

Side effects to QE include a weaker dollar and rising stock prices, but some experts worry that since the Fed has rolled out two prior rounds in recent years, stocks won’t react like they did in the past, especially considering the levels of uncertainty these days.

“We’ve been range-bound as everyone digests the information,” Robert Laura, president of Synergos Financial Group in Brighton, Mich., told CNBC.

“There’s nothing that’s going to take us any higher. The headwinds out there are too large for QE to overcome.”

On top of the European debt crisis that rages on with no end in sight, the United States is facing a fast-approaching fiscal cliff, an event taking place at the end of this year when tax cuts expire at the same time automatic cuts to government spending kick in.

If left unchecked by Congress, the fiscal cliff could send the country sliding into a recession next year.

No amount of QE can steer the country and its stock markets away from that.

“You can’t come in at this point and expect things to move higher,” Laura said.

“There’s no major catalyst waiting in the wings and a number of economic headwinds remain. It’s all flash with no substance right now.”

Editor's Note: The Final Turning Predicted for America. See Proof.

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Stimulus measures carried out by the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank (ECB) and other monetary authorities won’t fuel the inflationary pressures that many have feared, but they also won’t bring the desired recovery and growth, said Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz.
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Thursday, 04 Oct 2012 12:54 PM
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