Over the past few weeks, there’s been a growing buzz about central banks playing a greater role in explicitly serving as funders of government.
The idea that people (journalists and Wall Streeters, mostly) have been talking about is the notion that central banks could buy government debt (as they do in quantitative easing) but then just rip up those bonds, and cancel the debt, with few consequences, except perhaps some inflation (which central banks wants, anyway).
This kind of blatant monetization seems unlikely (especially in countries like the UK and the US, which are borrowing at super-low rates) but the idea of central banks working more closely with their government to stimulate the economy may be on the road to happening.
While the US was distracted by all of the Sandy and election news this week, the Bank of Japan took a shocking step in this direction, according to David Zervos of Jefferies, who notes that the latest easing announcement was a joint production between the Bank of Japan and the Ministry of Finance, amove that never happens:
BoJ policies, by virtually any measure, have been an abject failure. The institution has consistently remained too tight in the face of worsening economic conditions for over 2 decades. And while the economy has had to pay a horrible price for these errors, the tables look like they are about to turn in a nasty way on the institution itself.
Accompanying the depressing standard BoJ statement on 30-Oct was this very curious additional release – http://www.boj.or.jp/en/announcements/release_2012/k121030b.pdf. Here we have the BoJ governor, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy jointly issuing a press release on the BoJ website entitled – “Measures Aimed at Overcoming Deflation”. A press release of this kind is completely unprecedented. And it was published in the “Monetary Policy Releases” section of the BoJ website.
Read More at businessinsider.com . By Joe Weisenthal.