"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Friday, January 23, 2015

O'Brien on ECB QE

The ECB takes out the bazooka: It’ll buy over 1 trillion euros of bonds to save Europe’s economy by Matt O'Brien
And finally, QE is a little bit of a bailout, but not in the way that Germany's afraid of. Think about it like this: When a country buys its own bonds with newly printed money, it doesn't have to pay interest on that debt anymore. Now it still does, but this is just an accounting fiction. It's moving money from your right hand to your left hand, and then back again to your right. That's because the government pays the central bank the interest that's owed on the bonds, but the central bank turns around and gives the government all the money it just got paid. 
As economist Paul De Grauwe points out, this wipes out each country's interest payments, so it's not as if Germany is bailing out everyone else. They're all bailing themselves out in equal measure. And this matters a lot for a country such as Italy, which would be running a surplus if not for all the interest it owes on its debt. Those payments, together with its still-shrinking economy, are why Italy's debt burden has actually increased despite all its austerity. QE will help this. 
But it might be too little too late. Or maybe too late too little. It's hard to tell in Europe.

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