Quantitative Easing Explained

Live from the Federal Reserve. You may find some scenes dis-comforting...

- WHAT on earth...?

- Sorry, if you could just keep turned to the wall...

- But what in the hell is that?!

- This? Why, it's the...ummm...it's the Easer!

- The what?

- The Easer. You know, for the Quantitative Easing. Now, if you could just keep facing the wall for me...

- Does it really have to be so big? Jeez, it looks...it looks medieval...

- Aw, but this is state of the art. Ground-breaking, in fact! And you are a very sick man, as we discussed. The blood-tests would prove it...if only we had time to wait for the lab to come back with the results.

- I don't know about this, doctor. I'm feeling kinda bloated already...

- Precisely the problem, my good man! If you were up-to-par today, you'd be feeling ravenous. But since you aren't...well, you see the logic, of course.

- Hmm, I guess. But this Quantitive Easing...How does it work exactly?

- It's not quantitive, it's Quanti-tay-tive....and you must forgive me, but explaining this to a layman – even a smart guy like you, and a guy with such deep pockets too – really would take too long. We need to cut to the chase. There's not a moment to lose. Besides, I'm due on the golf course at three...

- There's really no other option?

- In technical terms, you should be dead by now. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that you aren't already...

- Can't we run through the alternatives first?

- The alternatives?! Look, I spoke with my colleague Dr. Paulson over at the renowned Washington Clinic across the street. I checked with Dr. King at the Threadneedle Clinic in London...y'know, just off Harley Street? Then I called Dr. Roth's team in Switzerland...Hell, I even rang the Chinese, just to see if there wasn't something I might be missing with tigers feet or panda roots or such like! But they all agreed. You need a mega-dose of quantité – and quick...

- A mega-dose of what?

- Of quantité. Y'know, from the French. As in Quantitative Easing. As in the treatment you've come for...to get your quantité eased...

- So this procedure is French?

- What's with all the questions? You're not here from 60 Minutes are you? I already got Dr. Paulson to sign the consent form for you. So if you could just face the wall, we can get started, and then I can hand you over to Dr. Obama's after-care clinic...

- I simply want to know what's happening...

- Jeez, okay, okay. The treatment was perfected in Japan about a decade ago. Y'know...shiatsu, Shiseido, ground wasabi, all that mineral extract stuff. Hell, you could walk of here today with the clear complexion of a Tokyo school girl! Well, maybe not walk exactly. Not today...

- But will it work, doctor?

- Work? You just saw the size of The Easer, right? Thing is, the Japanese applied too little, too late. My analysis proves it...or rather, it would prove it...if only we could roll back the clock like I've rewound the US to the 1930s. But see, during the Depression, the clinical consensus for unblocking pipe-work was a diet of liquids and liquidation. Crazy, ain't it?! And in Japan, it was like 10 years before Tokyo dared to use The Easer. That's why the effect was so muted.

- Hang on...You mean Quantitative Easing has never actually cured anyone?

- Not in practice, no. But in theory? This is cutting edge. You're gonna make history! Really, this thing works magic. On my econometric models, it's already prevented the Great Depression and Japan's Lost Decade, too...

- You just said that it failed in Japan...

- Only in reality...

- Are you sure you know what you're doing? Are you even qualified?

- See that certificate on the wall up there?

- Graduate of Spring Break, 1978...?

- Just look at that gilt frame! See the workmanship...? Look hard now...keep looking...keep looking...and away...she...goes...!

- HEY! Now just hold on, Doctor Bernanke! I really am feeling much better today. Just a little run down, you know? And bloated, like I said. So I just can't see how yet more of your easing is going to help. I mean, Dr. Greenspan swore blind we were all done with ease and easing and easy after four years of the damn stuff back in 2005. But now look at me! Swollen and flabby...and with more gas than Russia. Really, all I think I need is a rest...

- A rest?! In your condition?! You'd freeze up entirely, man! Your entire Liboric system could shut down...

- My what?

- Your Liboric system. Y'know, from Libor...? The interbank lending rate...? The source of all your troubles...? It could shut down. Entirely.

- You guys make it all sound so complicated...

- Aw, c'mon – just look at The Easer! You think this is rocket science?

- Looks more like a giant turkey baster...

- That's the spirit! I've always preferred goose, myself...Anyways, if you could just relax for me. Trust me, this will be so much easier if you just try to forget what's actually happening.

- That's what Dr. Greenspan said...

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Adrian Ash runs the research desk at BullionVault, the physical gold and silver market for private investors online. Formerly head of editorial at London's top publisher of private-investment advice, he was City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning from 2003 to 2008, and is now a regular contributor to many leading analysis sites including Forbes and a regular guest on BBC national and international radio and television news. Adrian's views on the gold market have been sought by the Financial Times and Economist magazine in London; CNBC, Bloomberg and TheStreet.com in New York; Germany's Der Stern and FT Deutschland; Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore, and many other respected finance publications.

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