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People's Quantitative Easing

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Title: People's Quantitative Easing  
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Subject: Political positions of Jeremy Corbyn, Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 2015
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People's Quantitative Easing

People's Quantitative Easing (PQE) was a policy announced by Jeremy Corbyn during the 2015 Labour leadership election which would require the Bank of England to print money to finance government investment. It attracted much media coverage, with some calling it "economically illiterate",[1][2] while others defended the policy.[3][4]


  • Policy 1
  • Reaction 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


Corbyn proposes to have the Bank of England create money to invest in housing and public transport, described by Corbyn as "People's Quantitative Easing". This would aim to turn the UK into a high-skill, high-tech economy and to build more council houses in order to lower long-term housing benefit costs. To achieve this, the Bank would purchase bonds for a state-owned "National Investment Bank".[5][6]

The policy is based on ideas put forward by the political economist Richard Murphy.[7] Murphy argues it is a policy designed for use in 2020, in the event the economy remains flat despite traditional quantitative easing, with low inflation, low interest rates, high unemployment and low wages. If the economy is growing strongly, PQE would not be needed as increasing tax revenues would pay for necessary investment.[8]

Economics professor Simon Wren-Lewis explains that the difference between PQE and Milton Friedman's helicopter money is that instead of central banks distributing newly created money directly to individuals, creating consumption demand without involving government, PQE finances investment projects that are to some extent at least initiated by government. So PQE impinges on central bank independence.[9]


The policy was criticised as economically illiterate by other leadership candidates[10] and would be seen as increasing the risk of investing in the UK.[11] It would also clash with Article 123 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty which prevents central banks from printing money to finance government spending and could cause a legal battle with the European Court of Justice.[12][13] The Daily Telegraph wrote that as quantitative easing had the potential to cause inflation; currently the Bank of England holds onto the money it creates and thus has the power to 'unwind QE' by reversing it, whereas if the money had gone into a National Investment Bank, this would not be possible.[14]

On 3 August 2015, Labour's shadow chancellor, Chris Leslie, criticised the proposal on the grounds that it could provoke higher inflation and interest rates.[15]

However, economist Robert Skidelsky offered a qualified endorsement of Corbyn's proposals to carry out PQE through a National Investment Bank,[16][17] and both The Guardian and the Financial Times have published articles complimented the idea.[18][19] The Guardian also published an article by Tony Yates, economist at Birmingham University critical of the proposal. Yates suggested it could encourage reckless spending by governments to finance "pet project" could encourage governments to print money to finance pre election booms followed by austerity after a government is reelected and could fuel extreme inflation. Yates is further concerned that high inflation and economic uncertainty tends to hit poor people hardest.[20] The Independent published an article arguing that a limited amount of PQE would usefully increase employment and inflation, reducing the burden of debt accumulated since the financial crisis of 2007–08.[21]

The Daily Telegraph reported that HSBC's chief economist, Stephen King, and Standard Life's senior international economist, Jeremy Lawson, support policies such as People's Quantitative Easing should the economy move into another downturn despite the use of traditional quantitative easing (QE) policies.[22]

In August 2015, Corbyn stated he had had messages of support on his economic policies in general from economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz.[23][24][25]

See also


  1. ^ "Yvette Cooper says Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn's policies not credible or radical". 
  2. ^ "Would Corbyn's 'QE for people' float or sink Britain?". BBC News. 12 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Labour party stands at a crossroads". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ "Corbynomics sounds subversive, but maybe not for long". 
  5. ^ "Corbynomics - what on earth is Jeremy Corbyn's economic policy?". . London Loves Business. Retrieved on 12 September 2015.
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Zoe Williams (22 September 2015). "Can Corbynomics guru Richard Murphy fix Britain?". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Carlos Martin Tornero (24 August 2015). "Corbynomics: Everything you always wanted to know about it, explained by Richard Murphy". The Accountant. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  9. ^  
  10. ^ "Yvette Cooper says Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn's policies not credible or radical". 
  11. ^ "Would Corbyn's 'QE for people' float or sink Britain?". BBC News. 12 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Spence, Peter (15 August 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's 'People's QE' would force Britain into three-year battle with the EU". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  13. ^ The Lisbon Treaty Article 123 
  14. ^ "What are we to think of Jeremy Corbyn's 'people’s QE'?". 
  15. ^ Nicholas Watt (3 August 2015). "Corbyn's economic strategy would keep Tories in power, top Labour figure says". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  16. ^ "The Labour party stands at a crossroads". The Guardian. 
  17. ^ Robert Skidelsky (19 August 2015). "Why we should take Corbynomics seriously". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  18. ^ Klein, Matthew (6 August 2015). "Corby's "People's QE" could actually be a decent idea". Financial Times Alphaville. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  19. ^ "Corbynomics sounds subversive, but maybe not for long". 
  20. ^ Corbyn's QE for the people jeopardises the Bank of England's independence
  21. ^ George Cooper (15 September 2015). "People's Quantitative Easing may be the best way to undo the mistakes of the first round of QE". The Independent. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^ Catherine Boyle (18 August 2015). ".People's QE?. Left-wing leader's plans for the UK". CNBC News. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  24. ^ Paul Krugman (4 August 2015). "Corbyn and the Cringe Caucus". New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  25. ^ Paul Krugman (14 September 2015). "Labour's Dead Center". New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
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