Monday, February 08, 2010

An ode to quantitative easing

Giles Wilkes, the multitalented git, has composed a really rather excellent poem about quantitative easing, ‘The ballad of Mervyn’s shovel’. Paul Cotterill, the sly dog, has responded with a limerick of his own on the subject and an invitation to submit similarly themed poems.

I cannot resist. Bear in mind that Giles has an unfair advantage in that he actually understands QE, whereas I’ve had to pick up the gist based largely on blog posts by him and others…

Sing a song of £200 billion

Mervyn King was in his counting house, counting out our money;
It didn’t take him very long, a fact he deemed most funny.
“To return our stagnant nation to a land of milk and honey,
I must make things more liquid – or at least, a bit more runny.”

And so he set off to create two hundred billion nicker,
Enough to buy the whole wide world a bathtub full of liquor
Though rather than buy fripperies he thought that he would pick a
Duller option: public debt. But now here’s the real kicker:

“The printing press – a minting mess – will debauch our fair pound,”
Said monetarist sceptics who were swarming all around.
“The value of dear sterling will collapse beneath the ground
And an explosion of inflation will astonish and astound.”

But King replied: “You dolts, it’s not a literal printing press;
I do it electronically, by clicking here on ‘Yes’.
And as for sterling, well it is now really more or less
Where it was back when we started – so no big deal, I guess.”

Now other critics did retort: “It’s no big deal, indeed,
For far too little’s changed vis-à-vis circulation speed
Of money; banks are hoarding what they fear that they might need,
So there’s precious little here on which recovery could feed.”

Yet assets boomed: the FTSE grew from suckling at King’s teat,
The once-tortured housing market had all expectations beat,
Estate agents were dancing in the (up-and-coming) street,
And the Treasury found buyers for all the gilts it could secrete.

Then QE stopped – not with a bang nor whimper, just a grumble
About its consequences, an impenetrable jumble;
Some feared that its reversal could provoke another stumble,
And King concluded: “I predict that (mumble mumble mumble).”

Also, just for good measure, a limerick:

The Old Lady was most displeased
That credit was painfully squeezed
She made billions from nought
And yet I must report
My own bank balance is uneased


Giles said...

I am very disappointed there have not been more entrants. But you are the winner.

Sigh, not enough poetic economics. Or economical poets.

Tom Freeman said...

Thanks, Giles. It was an utterly inspired concept!

A shame there weren't more, but I guess it is kind of niche. Would have been interesting to see what the Digital Cuttlefish might have made of it, though.