Skip to main content

money exchange AFP/Getty Images

Money from Heaven?

The world economy is struggling with persistently weak aggregate demand, below-target inflation, and slow or no growth. But these conditions, however troubling, should not lead central bankers to implement reckless policies – above all the “helicopter drops” that many are now advocating.

TOKYO – The world economy is struggling. The single currency is fettering, not freeing, the eurozone; Japan is smarting from the slowdown of America’s normalization of monetary policy; and emerging markets worldwide are suffering the consequences of China’s economic mismanagement. But adverse global conditions, however troubling, should not lead central bankers to neglect the risks of untested policies – above all the “helicopter drops” that many are now proposing.

Conceived in 1969 by Milton Friedman as part of a thought experiment – not an actual proposal – helicopter drops got their name from the fantastic vision of fresh money being scattered from a helicopter whirring overheard. But the point of helicopter drops – or what former US Fed Chair Ben Bernanke recently called a “money-financed fiscal program” (MFFP) – is simply to distribute newly printed cash directly to consumers, such as through tax rebates.

Over the last half-century, central bankers have repeatedly ruled out the use of MFFP. But in the current environment of persistently weak aggregate demand, below-target inflation, and slow or no output growth, economists worldwide have been desperately seeking deus ex machina – a search that, for some, has led to the heliport.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/VHpqIMn;
  1. campanella17_Ryan AshcroftSOPA ImagesLightRocket via Getty Images_englihs Ryan Ashcroft/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

    Back to Little England?

    Edoardo Campanella

    The United Kingdom's bid to withdraw from the European Union is typically characterized as a dramatic manifestation of British nationalism. In fact, it has almost nothing to do with Britain, and everything to do with English national identity, which has been wandering in the wilderness ever since the fall of Pax Britannica.

    1

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions