Helicopter money and basic income: friends or foes?

Helicopter money and basic income: friends or foes?

Spurred by Milton Friedman, the concept of “helicopter money” – under which central banks would distribute money to citizens – is making headway in economic debate, but is often confused with the idea of basic income. This article intends to clarify the distinctions and overlaps between these two concepts.

“Let us suppose now that one day a helicopter flies over this community and drops an additional $1,000 in bills from the sky, which is, of course, hastily collected by members of the community. Let us suppose further that everyone is convinced that this is a unique event which will never be repeated.”

When Milton Friedman wrote those lines in 1969, he probably never thought that “helicopter money” would become a buzzword in the 2000s post-crisis era. Friedman’s thinking was indeed quite radically unorthodox. How did the prominent neoliberal advocate come to suggest people should receive free money and that we would all be better off as a result? Far from philanthropic thinking, Friedman was in fact simply trying to illustrate his theory of the neutrality of money. If you need to make more money, you should consider renting out your spare room.

What would happen if we were to drop freshly printed notes over a population from a helicopter, just like rain? Nothing other than inflation, suggested Friedman, one of his main beliefs being that any increase in the money supply automatically leads to a proportional increase in consumer prices. Through this thought experiment, Friedman drew the conclusion that central banks can always avoid deflation by producing money and causing it to circulate in the economy.

In fact, however, the idea that we could create money and distribute it to the people goes back much farther than Friedman. In 1924, British engineer Clifford Hugh Douglas elaborated his theory of the “social credit”, its main component being the distribution of a monthly “national dividend” generated from money creation, the level of which would vary according to national production.

Although Douglas did gain some notable following at the time, especially in Canada, the idea was ultimately consigned to the oubliettes of history, leaving Friedman with the alleged paternity of the idea, centre-staging the helicopter analogy with it.

The concept wasn’t much thought of for 30 years following Friedman’s discussion, however, and it might have been forgotten again if it hadn’t been brought back to public attention in 2002 by one of the most influential voices of monetary policy. In a famous speech, the Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke alluded to this concept, making the case that, under important deflationary trends like that seen in Japan, the central bank could resort to helicopter money-style instruments to achieve its 2% inflation target.

Yet, far from initiating serious consideration, these remarks only caused Bernanke to endure mockery and “helicopter Ben” as a persistent nickname.

This is probably because the concept runs counter to the whole ideological turn of the 20th century in terms of monetary policy. Starting from the 50s, money creation has been gradually shifted from the sphere of public sovereignty into the quasi-monopolistic realm of the private banking sector. This process ultimately resulted in the outright prohibition, in most jurisdictions, of monetary financing of government budgets. Helicopter money sounds very much like a reversal of this trend, and a dangerous one to the ears of many mainstream economists.

An alternative form of money creation

There is recurring confusion around the exact meaning of helicopter money, which is probably caused by the simple fact that the alleged proponent of the idea, Milton Friedman, never seriously intended to implement it.

Thus, the concept finds itself often described in very diverse terms, ranging from the old-fashioned monetization of public debt to its purest form (and probably the one Friedman actually had in mind): the distribution of money directly to all citizens by central banks. The latter will be the one we assess in this article.

Helicopter money can thus be defined as the creation of money, without corresponding assets, and its distribution into citizens’ bank accounts.

It is therefore an alternative form of money creation, which is strictly different from the most common way in which money is created today: through the banking sector’s credit issuance functions. It is worth clarifying this point here: as the Bank of England has clearly demonstrated, today’s monetary supply is almost entirely controlled by private banks issuing credit into the economy. This is sometimes referred to (somewhat misleadingly) as the “fractional reserve banking system”. Although the benefits and pitfalls of such an arrangement are subject to never-ending controversy between academics, the way in which this system functions is nowadays largely undisputed.

Money tree sculpture in front of the Central Bank of Ireland.

The key advantage of helicopter money resides precisely in the fact that it would bypass banks as money creators, and is therefore one way for the central bank to maintain the money supply regardless of whether banks play their role as suppliers of money into the economy. In its purest form, helicopter money also bypasses governments’ treasuries, and is therefore not legally prohibited under the monetary financing rule (Art. 123 of the EU Lisbon Treaty).

A second clarification is also required at this point: helicopter money is also different from the so called “quantitative easing” (QE) policies that have been implemented by several central banks, although they pursue a similar objective: boosting the money supply to avoid deflationary pressures.

Under QE, central banks create money (the so called central bank’s reserves) and mobilize those reserves to purchase financial assets on a large scale and over a certain period of time. Usually, central banks purchase sovereign bonds with the intention of pushing down interest rates on those bonds, to encourage the financial sector to move away from investing in sovereign bonds and to instead lend money to riskier projects under the so-called “portfolio rebalancing effect”. This type of money creation is therefore targeted to the financial sector, with assets as collateral on the central bank’s balance sheet and, more importantly, is a temporary operation: the central bank destroys the money once the bonds it holds come to maturation.

Helicopter money is therefore very different from QE. In fact, it is precisely because of the many shortcomings of QE that helicopter money is being presented by a growing number of people as a superior alternative.

Helicopter money as an alternative to quantitative easing

The assessments of QE programmes in the US, Japan, and the UK have been subject to a wealth of contradictory conclusions. In Europe, the ECB’s QE programme was first applauded as progress, after years of speculation and resistance to implementation of QE when it was desperately needed – when the Greek crisis hit. However, it is becoming clear that QE recipes, in Europe and elsewhere, never really do the trick.

Generally speaking, QE does cause lending conditions to improve, but it does not automatically lead to an increase in bank lending. In other words, the “transmission channel” of monetary policy does not work so well under QE. To be fair, this is not the banks’ fault: there is little banks can do when conditions are so bad that virtually no companies or households want to take on debt because the economy is already over-indebted.

Economists talk of a “liquidity trap” whereby injections of cash into the private banking system by a central bank fail to stimulate the real economy. QE doesn’t overcome this trap.

Even worse, QE is often accused of creating asset bubbles and increasing wealth inequality, because the massive injection of money is narrowly targeted towards financial asset disproportionately owned by the rich. The Bank of England itself estimates that its own QE programme has increased by 40% the wealth of the richest 5% of Brits.

Against this background, helicopter money is experiencing a comeback, perhaps with even more strength than Friedman could ever have imagined. Since the start of the crisis, prominent economists and commentators, including Martin Wolf, Steve Keen, Anatole Kaletsky, Willem Buiter, Adair Turner, John Muellbauer, Bradford Delong and Martin Sandbu, have advocated for central banks to implement some form of helicopter money. Anatole Kaletsky and Steve Keen almost simultaneously proposed re-branding the concept “QE for People”, which later became the name of a European campaign (for which the author currently works).

Conference about “Quantitative Easing for People” at the European Parliament

The case for QE for People is quite straightforward: since the banking sector is not currently able to “transmit” the central bank’s monetary policy accommodation by increasing their loan’s issuance, why shouldn’t the central bank do it by itself? If the main task of central banks is to maintain inflation at around 2%, certainly the most effective way would indeed be to distribute money to people so they can spend it.

The debate on helicopter money took another turn when it was mentioned by the ECB’s chief Mario Draghi, under the spotlights of a press conference on March 9th 2016 and later by other senior ECB officials. “Helicopter money is a very interesting concept” Draghi said, while adding that the idea was not yet being considered by the ECB. Whether one think this was sincere curiosity or a clumsy statement on Draghi’s part, the fact is this single sentence provoked a historic tide of comments and debate on the idea, including within policymaker spheres.

How about basic income?

Similarities between helicopter money and basic income have led some commentators to offer very confused explanations, claiming, for example, that Finland was already undertaking a “helicopter money” programme (the basic income experiment).

Undeniably, there are resemblances between the two concepts, as both involve making unconditional payments to all citizens and usually without means-testing. Basic income’s principles of universality and unconditionality can also be found in helicopter money.

Key differences quickly emerge under careful analysis, however. Under a helicopter money regime, there is no clear commitment from the central bank to make payments periodic. Quite the contrary in fact, as most proponents of helicopter money (read the prolific Eric Lonergan for example) are keen to be clear on the fact that this should be an exceptional measure, to be used on a one-off basis, with the possibility (but not the commitment) to renew if necessary.

There is nevertheless some theoretical overlap with basic income. In addition to Douglas, several key advocates of basic income have put forward the case that money creation could be used to finance the benefit, either as a “boot” phase or as a way to supplement the fiscal means to finance basic income schemes. The French economist Yoland Bresson made the case that perpetual low interest sovereign bonds could be used to kick off the basic income in a first stage, thus leaving time for the government to implement all the necessary reforms of the tax-benefit system to make UBI fully functional.

These theories relate to the understanding of basic income as a mechanism of pre-distribution (as opposed to redistribution), whereby basic income is a recognition of the intrinsic value of all participants in society, or even as common inheritance. If all citizens create value “because they exist”, then it makes sense to “pre-validate” this economic value using money creation. If we are all richer today because of our predecessors’ work and heritage, then one can argue that more money should be introduced into circulation to recognise this added wealth.

These are, however, only marginal justifications today, put forward to support neither helicopter money nor basic income. Beyond some theoretical common ground, the differences between the two policies are most clear when one understands that they pursue different objectives.

Put simply, helicopter money can be framed as a punctual measure (extreme, one may say) with a rather narrow purpose: to stimulate economic activity by boosting people’s incomes under some strict circumstances, that is, when the economy is under threat of deflation.

Basic income, on the other hand, pursues a very wide range of objectives from poverty alleviation to work emancipation, gender balance incentivization, social protection modernization, more aggressive redistribution and so on. In contrast, stimulating people’s purchasing power is certainly not the main argument for doing basic income.

From those different objectives also stem different institutional frameworks. If the objective of helicopter money’s proponents is merely to stimulate demand, then transfers to citizens is only one practical means by which to achieve this single clear goal. From this viewpoint, it also makes sense to give independent central banks the legal capacity to distribute a citizens’ dividend as a new instrument in the monetary policy toolbox.

If basic income pursues more numerous and complex objectives, by contrast, it then makes sense that it should be the responsibility of elected governments to design and implement it, just like any other fiscal policy.

In conclusion, helicopter money could be seen as one of many “partial basic income” proposals: schemes that share some of the characteristics of basic income but not all of them. Yet given the very clear institutional distinctions just covered, it does not make sense then to associate too closely the two concepts. In this light, it might be more meaningful to refer to helicopter money payouts as “social dividends” or “monetary dividends” as opposed to “basic income”.

Can helicopter money lead to basic income?

Despite all the institutional and practical distinctions drawn above, it is quite enlightening to recognize the political porosity between the two proposals. Helicopter money proponents tend to also favor basic income (though not all do) and vice versa.

This is probably because the two ideas, to some extent, share some common strategic interests and help one another in the struggle for cultural acceptance of each proposal, especially in regards to unconditionality and the disconnection of money from labor.

From a basic income viewpoint, the rise of the helicopter money discussion is a useful addition to basic income’s financing question. If central banks can create money, then surely it would be easier to finance a basic income.

On the other side, it is also convenient for helicopter money proponents that the basic income discussion is making headway in the argument for universal payments to citizens: it levies an important moral blocage.

Even more strategically, perhaps, there is a case for seeing helicopter money as a necessary step to the implementation of a full-fledged basic income policy.

This is a particularly relevant argument when it comes to the European Monetary Union, which is currently deprived of any significant common fiscal policy. Because of this, it will probably take years before we might see something like a eurodividend (an EU basic income scheme financed by an EU budget) as articulated by Philippe van Parijs.

Speech by Philippe van Parijs on the Eurodividend at the European Social and Economic Committee in Brussels.

To circumvent this cumbersome and very long-term political route, Slovenian economist Jože Mencinger has repeatedly suggested the use of helicopter money as an “ideal experimental possibility” to kick-start a form of basic income in the EU.

Instead of QE, the ECB could start a helicopter money scheme by giving 200 euros per adult citizens for one year – no strings attached, no taxes involved, simply courtesy of the ECB’s (digital) printing presses. This would involve about three times less money printing than under QE and yet would be more likely to fulfill the ECB’s objective.

If this works and garners favorable public opinion, there would be even greater political momentum for implementing something like a permanent eurodividend scheme. The ECB’s temporary scheme would allow some time for EU policymakers to create the institutional and fiscal infrastructure for such a eurodividend to be functional.

In the long run, nothing forbids us from thinking that the ECB could permanently fund such a eurodividend scheme at a certain level, as Kevin Spiritus and Willem Sas have sketched. Yet such funding cannot be seen as an obligation for the ECB under the current legal framework. More intellectual debate will be required before policymakers come to the conclusion that some form of permanent helicopter money is necessary and desirable.

There is still much work to be done before either basic income or helicopter money can be put in place. However, 10 years after the financial crisis, it is clear that central banks’ models have not delivered as they were expected to. There is clear mismatch between the massive size of their balance sheet interventions and the bleak outlook of the economy.

There is a growing case that the whole central banking theoretical framework must be revised. Helicopter money is certainly one idea that is usefully challenging the monetary policy status quo. It will surely take another leap of determination and audacity for central bankers to take this step forward, but we should not rule out that it might also be the most pragmatic thing central banks can do at some point in the future. When things get to this point, the basic income movement must stand ready to play its part in facilitating the move towards helicopter money, while making sure to build upon this gigantic central bank experiment towards a permanent and sustainable basic income.

Thanks to Genevieve Shanahan for proofreading this article.

Credit pictures: Courtesy Financial Times; Positive Money, picturesbyJOE, UBI-Europe

Citi Bank’s chief economist pushes for basic income

Citi Bank’s chief economist pushes for basic income

Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup Inc, a multinational investment banking corporation, has written in support of a basic income guarantee as a way to assist workers who are “left behind by technological advances”.

Buiter recently reaffirmed this position at Citi’s annual summit, held in November in London, where he participated in a panel about global political risks.

Buiter is also a prominent advocate of the so called ‘helicopter money‘ idea whereby central banks would distribue a social dividend to all citizens.

Read more [in Swedish]:

Charlotta Buxton, “Toppekonom: Statlig inkomst lösning på populism,” SvD Näringsliv (November 21, 2016).

Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan 

Photo: Willem Buiter speaks to unnamed people at LSE event, CC BY-NC-ND-2.0 UK in Spain

Basic income will be at the core of monetary policy in the 21st century

Basic income will be at the core of monetary policy in the 21st century

To tackle spiraling deflationary trends, governments and central banks will soon have no other choice but to resort to printing money and giving it directly to the people.

Article by John Aziz, originally published on azionomics.com under the title “Universal Basic Income Is Inevitable, Unavoidable, and Incoming.”

The last time I saw universal basic income discussed on television, it was laughed away by a Conservative MP as an absurd idea. The government giving away wads of cash responsibility-free to the entire population sounds entirely fantastical in this austerity-bound age, where “we just don’t have the money” is repeated endlessly as a mantra. Money, they say, does not grow on trees. (Only as figures on the screen of a computer).

In this world, universal basic income seems like a rather distant prospect. Yes, there are some proposals, like Finland which is set to start local experiments in 2017 and Switzerland which is holding a referendum on universal basic income next month. I don’t expect the vote to pass. The current political climate is just too patriarchal. We live in a world where free choice is unfashionable. The mass media demonizes the poor as feckless and too lazy and ignorant to make good choices about how to spend their income. Better that the government spend huge chunks of GDP employing bureaucrats to administer tests, to moralize on the virtues of work, and sanction the profligate.

But this world is fast changing, and the more I study the basic facts of economic life in the early 21st century, the more inevitable universal basic income begins to seem.

And no, it’s not because of the robots that are coming to take our jobs, as Erik Brynjolfsson suggests in his excellent The Second Machine Age. While automation is a major economic disruptor that will transform our economy, assuming that robots will dissolve jobs entirely is just buying into the same Lump of Labour fallacy that the Luddites fell for. Automation frees humans from drudgery and opens up the economy to new opportunities. Where once vast swathes of the population toiled in the fields as subsistence farmers, mechanization allowed these people to become industrial workers, and their descendants to become information and creative workers.

As today’s industries are decimated, and as the market price of media falls closer and closer toward zero, new avenues will be opened up. New industries will be born in a neverending cycle of creative destruction. Yes, perhaps universal basic income will help ease the current transition that we are going through, but the transition is not the reason why universal basic income is inevitable.

Welcome to the world of hyperdeflation

So why is it inevitable? Take a look at Japan, and now the eurozone: economies where consumer price deflation has become an ongoing and entrenched reality. This occurrence has been married to economic stagnation and continued dips into recession. In Japan — which has been in the trap for over two decades — debt levels in the economy have remained high. The debt isn’t being inflated away as it would under a more “normal” rate of growth and inflation. And even in the countries that have avoided outright deflationary spirals, like the UK and the United States, inflation has been very low.

The most major reason, I am coming to believe, is rising efficiency and the growing superabundance of stuff. Cars are becoming more fuel efficient. Homes are becoming more fuel efficient. Vast quantities of solar energy and fracked oil are coming online. China’s growing economy continues to pump out vast quantities of consumer goods. And it’s not just this: people are better educated than ever before, and equipped with incredibly powerful productivity resources like laptops, iPads and smartphones. Information and media has fallen to an essentially free price. If price inflation is a function of the growth of the money supply against growth in the total amount of goods and services produced, then it is very clear why deflation and lowflation have become a problem in the developed world, even with central banks struggling to push out money to reinflate the credit bubble that burst in 2008.

Much, much more is coming down the pipeline. At the core of this As the cost of superabundant and super-accessible solar continues to fall, and as battery efficiencies continue to increase the price of energy for heating, lighting, cooking and transportation (e.g. self-driving electric cars, delivery trucks, and ultimately planes) is being slowly but powerfully pushed toward zero. Heck, if the cost of renewables continue to fall, and advances in AI and automation continue, in thirty or forty years most housework and yardwork will be renewables-powered, and done by robot. Water crises can be alleviated by solar-powered desalination, and resource pressures by solar-powered robot miners.

And just as computers and the internet have made huge quantities of media (such as this blog) free for users, 3-D printers and disassemblers will push the production of stuff much closer to free. People will simply be able to download blueprints from the internet, put their trash into a disassembler and print out new items. Obviously, this won’t work anytime soon for complex objects like smartphones, but every technology company in the world is hustling and grinding for more efficiency in their manufacturing processes. Not to mention that as more and more stuff is manufactured, and as we become more environmentally conscious and efficient at recycling, this huge global stockpile of stuff acts as another deflationary pressure.


These deflationary pressures will gradually seep into services as more and more processes become automated and powered by efficiency increasing machines, drones and robots. This will gradually come to encompass the old inflationary bugbears of medical care, educational costs and construction and maintenance costs. Of course, I don’t expect this dislocation to result in permanent incurable unemployment. People will find stuff to do, and new fields will open up, many of which we are yet to imagine. But the price trend is clear to me: lots and lots of lowflation and deflation. This, ultimately, is at the heart of capitalism. The race for efficiency. The race to do more with less (including less productivity). The race for the lowest costs.

I’ve written about this before. I jokingly called it “hyperdeflation.”

Global Japanization

And the obvious outcome, at the very least, is global Japan. This, of course, is not a complete disaster. Japan remains a relatively rich and stable country, even after twenty years of deflation. But Japan’s high level of debt — and particularly government debt — does pose a major concern. Yes, as a sovereign currency issuer borrowing in its own currency the Japanese government runs no risk of actual default. But slow growth and deflation are stagnationary. And without growth and inflation, the government will have to raise taxes to cover the deficit, spiking the punchbowl and continuing the cycle of debt deflation. And of course, all of the Bank of Japan’s attempts at reigniting inflation and inflating away that debt through complicated monetary operations in financial markets have up until now proven pretty ineffectual.

This is where some form of universal basic income comes in: ultimately, the most direct stimulus for lifting inflation and triggering productive economic activity is putting cash in the people’s hands. What I am suggesting is nothing less than printing money and giving it away to people — as opposed to trying to push it out through the complicated and convoluted transmission mechanism of financial sector lending. This will ultimately become governments’ major backstop against debt deflation, as well as the temporary joblessness and economic inequality created by technological acceleration. Everything else, thus far, has been pushing on a string. And the deflationary pressure is only going to become stronger as efficiency rises and rises.

Throw enough newly-created money into the economy, inject inflation, and nominal tax revenues can rise to cover the debt load. Similarly, if inflation gets too high, cut back on the money-creation or take money out of circulation and bring inflation into check, just as central banks have done for the last century.

The biggest obstacle to this, in my view, is the interests of those with lots of money, who like deflation because it increases their purchasing power. But in the end, rich people aren’t just sitting on hoards of cash. Most of them do have businesses that would benefit from their clients having higher incomes so as to increase spending, and thus their incomes. Indeed, in a debt-deflationary spiral with default cascades, many of these rentiers would face the same ruin as their clients, as their clients default on their obligations.

And yes, I know that there are legal obstacles to fully-blown ‘helicopter money‘, chiefly the notion of central bank independence. But I am an advocate of central bank independence, for a variety of reasons. Indeed, I don’t think that universal basic income should be a function of fiscal spending at all, not least because I think that dispassionate and economically literate central bankers tend to be better managers of monetary expansion and contraction than politically motivated — and generally less economically literate — politicians. So everything I am describing can and should be envisioned as a function of monetary policy. Indeed, what I am advocating for is a new set of core monetary policy tools for the 21st century.

UNITED STATES: Fund Manager Bill Gross Endorses Basic Income

UNITED STATES: Fund Manager Bill Gross Endorses Basic Income

Last Wednesday, May 4, billionaire bond manager Bill Gross (of Janus Capital) made waves when he endorsed universal basic income in his Monthly Investment Outlook – or, perhaps more accurately, declared a UBI to be inevitable.

Mr. Gross, like many other commentators on current economic trends, foresees massive job loss due to automation:

Virtually every industry in existence is likely to become less labor-intensive in future years as new technology is assimilated into existing business models. Transportation is a visible example as computer driven vehicles soon will displace many truckers and bus/taxi drivers. Millions of jobs will be lost over the next 10-15 years. But medicine, manufacturing and even service intensive jobs are at risk. Investment managers too! Not only blue collar but now white collar professionals are being threatened by technological change.

He is critical of the idea, currently en vogue, that the appropriate response is to make higher education more accessible and affordable — submitting that a college degree might “better prepare students to be contestants on Jeopardy” but not necessarily lead to better jobs or more economic growth.

What, then, should be the alternative? Well, here’s what Mr. Gross says:

Instead we should spend money where it’s needed most – our collapsing infrastructure for instance, health care for an aging generation and perhaps on a revolutionary new idea called UBI – Universal Basic Income. If more and more workers are going to be displaced by robots, then they will need money to live on, will they not? And if that strikes you as a form of socialism, I would suggest we get used to it.

Indeed, he later goes so far as to assert, “The question is how high this UBI should be and how to pay for it, not whether it’s coming in the next decade. It is.”

On the question of how to financial a UBI, Mr. Gross recommends that central banks print more money – the idea popularly referred to as “helicopter money” and promoted in Europe as “QE for the People.”

Within hours, Mr. Gross’ proclamations led to a proliferation of news stories on basic income – including reports in Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and CNN Money, to mention only a few.

Matt Levine (in his Bloomberg View column “Money Stuff“) drew upon some personal anecdotes from Bill Gross to common on the common objection-cum-question “Would people stop working if they had a basic income?”:

Imagine a young Bill Gross, offered a basic income, free of the constraints of needing to earn a living. Would he still have become an obsessive bond manager? Yes of course he would have, come on. Gross has been open about the fact that he’s not in bond investing for the money; he’s in it for the fame. And there is no universal basic income of fame, though I guess Twitter is getting us pretty close.

Meanwhile, other authors and commentators took a skeptical stance. Fortune columnist Chris Matthews, for example, questioned the political feasibility of UBI in present day America, and Myles Udland, writing for Business Insider, claimed that a UBI would not be welcomed because “in the US we have attached a stigma to receiving certain types of government assistance, and the sociopolitical hurdles to a basic income program are very high.”

To be fair, Udland probably penned this criticism before he had chance to the read David Calnitsky’s article in the Canadian Journal of Sociology, “‘More Normal than Welfare”: The Mincome Experiment, Stigma, and Community Experience,” reported upon in Basic Income News last week. Calnitsky’s article provides empirical support to what many have already expected: since it is given to everyone — “obscuring the distinctions between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor,” as Calnitsky writes — a basic income should substantially diminish the stigma associated with the receipt of government monies.

Is basic income nonetheless too radical to be accepted in the States? At the very least, given the quickly burgeoning interest in the idea — and more and more prominent endorsements like that of Bill Gross — it seems premature to rule out its eventual widespread acceptance, which perhaps might happen sooner than we think.

Image Credit: Sequence Media Group

Thanks to my supporters on Patreon. (Click the link to see how you too can support my work for Basic Income News.) 

PORTUGAL: Draghi welcomed by “Quantitative Easing for the People” demand while in Lisbon

PORTUGAL: Draghi welcomed by “Quantitative Easing for the People” demand while in Lisbon

As expected, European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi’s visit to Lisbon on Thursday 7th April was welcomed with protests. First at Palácio de Belém (the official presidential premises), and later that day at Largo de São Domingos.

A few dozen protesters were present, answering a call from the political party Bloco de Esquerda, as well as activists from Basic Income Portugal, who held a banner with “QE for the People” written on it.

“QE” stands for Quantitative Easing, which designates the ECB’s stimulus programme by which it injects 60 billion euros per month into financial markets. As a reaction to this programme, more and more are defending the alternative idea of “QE for the People” which is being promoted by a coalition of organisations across Europe. The idea basically consists in redirecting the ongoing money creation of the ECB towards the real economy, for instance as a citizens’ dividend.

Protests have been spurred around the ECB’s QE policy because it has exclusively benefited the financial system (mainly banks), and not those more in need of it, the general population. Draghi has shown an interest in the policy of “QE for the People”, as if money was being (metaphorically) thrown out of a helicopter. However, no such policy has yet come to be, and it would, in effect, mark a reversal of all past ECB monetary policy.

Draghi was invited to Lisbon by the recently elected President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.


More information at:

In Portuguese: Sputnik, “Lisboa protesta contra Europa [Lisbon protests against Europe]”, Sputnik Sociedade, April 7th, 2016

Rendimento Básico Portugal Facebook page.