News; News & Events

EUROPE: 19 economists call on the ECB to make ‘QE for the people’ in a letter to the Financial Times

A letter published today in the Financial Times signed by 19 economists, including BIEN co-founder Guy Standing, calls on the European Central Bank to adopt an alternative quantitative easing policy. The letter includes a call to distribute cash directly to citizens of the eurozone.

As a response to the European Central Bank’s (ECB) plan to inject 60 bn euros a month for the next 18 months into the financial system, 19 economists have signed a letter to the Financial Times calling on the ECB to adopt a different approach which they consider a more efficient way to boost the eurozone economy.

“The evidence suggests that conventional QE is an unreliable tool for boosting GDP or employment. Bank of England research shows that it benefits the well-off, who gain from increasing asset prices, much more than the poorest,” the letter reads.

The signatories offer an alternative:

Rather than being injected into the financial markets, the new money created by eurozone central banks could be used to finance government spending (such as investing in much needed infrastructure projects); alternatively each eurozone citizen could be given €175 per month, for 19 months, which they could use to pay down existing debts or spend as they please. By directly boosting spending and employment, either approach would be far more effective than the ECB’s plans for conventional QE.

The idea of having central banks to distribute cash to citizens has often been called “quantitative easing for the people” – a term coined by Steve Keen, an Australian economist.

Prof. Steve Keen signed the letter, along with 18 other economists, including several advocates for basic income such as BIEN’s cofounder Guy Standing, David Graeber, Frances Coppola and Lord Robert Skidelsky. Guy Standing recently wrote an article outlining a proposal for having the ECB to finance basic income pilot studies in Europe:

“Monthly payments could be provided to every man, woman and child in, say, four areas on a pilot basis, with the sole condition that they would only continue to receive them if they were residing in those areas. People would still be free to move. However, it would help them to be able to stay. Such payments could be made for a period of 12 or 24 months.”

BIEN’s affiliate Unconditional Basic Income Europe also came out pushing for a similar proposal in a recent press release, as “a pragmatic, direct pathway towards an unconditional basic income for all in the eurozone.”

Although the concept of “quantitative easing for the people” and the basic income have common features in the sense that they consist in distributing cash transfers to all individuals no strings attached, a quantitative easing is usually not understood as a permanent scheme, rather a short term measure aiming at stimulating demand.

Here is the full list of signatories:

Victoria Chick, University College London

Frances Coppola, Associate Editor, Piera

Nigel Dodd, London School of Economics

Jean Gadrey, University of Lille

David Graeber, London School of Economics

Constantin Gurdgiev, Trinity College Dublin

Joseph Huber, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Steve Keen, Kingston University

Christian Marazzi, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland

Bill Mitchell, University of Newcastle

Ann Pettifor, Prime Economics

Helge Peukert, University of Erfurt

Lord Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor, Warwick University

Guy Standing, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Kees Van Der Pijl, University of Sussex

Johann Walter, Westfälische Hochschule, Gelsenkirchen Bocholt Recklinghausen, University of Applied Sciences

John Weeks, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Richard Werner, University of Southampton

Simon Wren-Lewis,University of Oxford

Photo Credit CC Alex Guibord

About Stanislas Jourdan

Stanislas Jourdan has written 43 articles.


The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Great news!

    Love framing it as “QE for the people.”

  • Mar Introini

    Finally the solution to Eurozone economic emergency: investment and not austerity. A so delayed goal by an “error chain” of wrong economic and political decisions that led to the current political & economic crisis, despite having overcome the original financial crisis.
    Thanks so much to the group of economists that have had this initiative and join efforts on the path to boost Eurozone economy.

  • Something needs to be done but I am not sure if it should be quantitative easing.

  • romjpn

    Could they please write to Japan as well ? I’m tired of QE for banksters. I don’t see any money of that QE in my pocket !

  • imogen32

    This is a jest, correct?
    €175 per month for the unemployed? For the family man? For the homeless? For the sunk-in-debt individual? For the unpaid mortgage? Surely it’s a jest.

  • Nat Ryder

    One way of “quantitative easing” for the people, I would like to propose is something similar to Islamic banking. Banks would invite small (viable) business to apply for funding for projects. The banks will provide part of the capital and become stockholders in the business but will not have any input to the management of the projects. The borrower will run the projects and share the profits with the bank. If the business fails, the banks lose their initial capital; it would be a loss to the bank but have some positive effect on the economy. On balance, there should be more successes than failures, and at least the velocity of money increases creating growth which should be the prime objective of QE

  • Beverly

    This is what they should have done in the first place.They also need to do write downs on mortgages .
    Loan to Value Please.

  • Using a blockchain to pre-issue and distribute an alt-coin that becomes a future tax deduction can do the same thing now.

    That’s what is doing.

    have a look.

  • marc desmet

    ‘a quantitative easing is usually not understood as a permanent scheme, rather a short term measure aiming at stimulating demand.’

    Consolidering climate warming and the existing concept of economic growth, should we ‘stimulatie demand’? Seems to me a very short termed ‘solution’ creating more disadvantages for all. I prefer basic unconditional income.

  • Strange that Steve Keen is against the idea of linking bankers income tax to the level of unemployment, stranger that he can’t articulate any reasoning for his stanse!
    Anyway, though not mutually exclusive, this is a better idea or certainly a politically easier step which would have many of the same benefits; and could easily become the stepping stone to a Basic Income.

    Please see:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.