QE has become shorthand for ultra monetary ease and unlimited lender of last resort on the part of central banks. QE entered a new round in the last few weeks with moves by the European Central Bank (ECB), the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ).
This action—and what is implied for the future—has generated huge controversy. QE on this scale is unprecedented, but so are the economic and financial conditions of the past several years, which have driven monetary authorities to react. A third unprecedented situation is the widespread belief and demand that jobs and prosperity are the responsibility of both the government and their central banks. While central bankers try to make a distinction between the two, most people do not. Governments are elected, central bankers are not. In the end when the crunch comes, central bankers have to do what they are told, in this case—ultra and unlimited monetary ease. It they don’t comply, they will be replaced.
The controversy over QE does not always focus on the right areas. Critics argue that these policies either won’t work or will work too well and trigger high inflation in the future. Supporters argue that monetary ease now is not inflationary because there is One or both of these perspectives could potentially prove to be correct after adjusting for time lags. However, there are some other considerations that should be put into the mix.