Saturday, January 30, 2016

Switzerland To Hand Out $2500 Monthly To All Citizens

Helicopter Money Arrives: Switzerland To Hand Out $2500 Monthly To All Citizens

With Citi's chief economist proclaiming "only helicopter money can save the world now," and the Bank of England pre-empting paradropping money concerns, it appears that Australia's largest investment bank's forecast that money-drops were 12-18 months away was too conservative. While The Finns consider a "basic monthly income" for the entire population, Swiss residents are to vote on a countrywide referendum about a radical plan to pay every single adult a guaranteed income of around $2500 per month, with authorities insisting that people will still want to find a job.

The plan, as The Daily Mail reports, proposed by a group of intellectuals, could make the country the first in the world to pay all of its citizens a monthly basic income regardless if they work or not.  But the initiative has not gained much traction among politicians from left and right despite the fact that a referendum on it was approved by the federal government for the ballot box on June 5.
Under the proposed initiative, each adult would receive $2,500 per months, and each child would also receive 625 francs ($750) a month.

The federal government estimates the cost of the proposal at 208 billion francs ($215 billion) a year.

Around 153 billion francs ($155 bn) would have to be levied from taxes, while 55 billion francs ($60 bn) would be transferred from social insurance and social assistance spending.

That is 30% of GDP!!!
The action committee pushing the initiative consists of artists, writers and intellectuals, including publicist Daniel Straub, former federal government spokesman Oswald Sigg and Zurich rapper Franziska Schläpfer (known as “Big Zis”), the SDA news agency reported. Personalities supporting the bid include writers Adolf Muschg and Ruth Schweikert, philosopher Hans Saner and communications expert Beatrice Tschanz. The group said a new survey showed that the majority of Swiss residents would continue working if the guaranteed income proposal was approved.
'The argument of opponents that a guaranteed income would reduce the incentive of people to work is therefore largely contradicted,' it said in a statement quoted by The Local.

However, a third of the 1,076 people interviewed for the survey by the Demoscope Institute believed that 'others would stop working'.

And more than half of those surveyed (56 percent) believe the guaranteed income proposal will never see the light of day.
The initiative’s backers say it aims to break the link between employment and income, with people entitled to guaranteed income regardless of whether they work.
Or put another way - break the link between actually having to work for anything ever again... but maybe this "group of itellentuals" should hark Margaret Thatcher's words that "eventually you run out of other people's money!!"
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As we previously detailed, support is growing around the world for such spending to be funded by “People’s QE.” The idea behind “People’s QE” is that central banks would directly fund government spending… and even inject money directly into household bank accounts, if need be. And the idea is catching on.
Already the European Central Bank is buying bonds of the European Investment Bank, an E.U. institution that finances infrastructure projects. And the new leader of Britain’s Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is backing a British version of this scheme.

That’s the monster coming to towns and villages near you! Call it “overt monetary financing.” Call it “money from helicopters.” Call it “insane.” 

But it won’t be unpopular. Who will protest when the feds begin handing our money to “mid- and low-income households”?
Simply put, The Keynesian Endgame is here... as  the only way to avoid secular stagnation (which, for the uninitiated, is just another complicated-sounding, economist buzzword for the more colloquial “everything grinds to a halt”) is for central bankers to call in the Krugman Kraken and go full-Keynes.
Rather than buying assets, central banks drop money on the street. Or even better, in a more modern and civilised fashion, credit our bank accounts! That, after all, may be more effective than buying assets, and would not imply the same transfer of wealth as previous or current forms of QE. Indeed, ‘helicopter money’ can be seen as permanent QE, where the central bank commits to making the increase in the monetary base permanent.

Again, crediting accounts does not guarantee that money will be spent – in contrast to monetary financing where the newly created cash can be used for fiscal spending. And in many cases, such policy would actually imply fiscal policy, as most central banks cannot conduct helicopter money operations on their own.


So again, the thing to realize here is that this has moved well beyond the theoretical and it's not entirely clear that most people understand how completely absurd this has become (and this isn't necessarily a specific critique of SocGen by the way, it's just an honest look at what's going on). At the risk of violating every semblance of capital market analysis decorum, allow us to just say that this is pure, unadulterated insanity. There's not even any humor in it anymore.

You cannot simply print a piece of paper, sell it to yourself, and then use the virtual pieces of paper you just printed to buy your piece of paper to stimulate the economy. There's no credibility in that whatsoever, and we don't mean that in the somewhat academic language that everyone is now employing on the way to criticizing the Fed, the ECB, and the BoJ.
And it will end only one way...
The monetizing of state debt by the central bank is the engine of helicopter money. When the central state issues $1 trillion in bonds and drops the money into household bank accounts, the central bank buys the new bonds and promptly buries them in the bank's balance sheet as an asset.

The Japanese model is to lower interest rates to the point that the cost of issuing new sovereign debt is reduced to near-zero. Until, of course, the sovereign debt piles up into a mountain so vast that servicing the interest absorbs 40+% of all tax revenues.

But the downsides of helicopter money are never mentioned, of course. Like QE (i.e. monetary stimulus), fiscal stimulus (helicopter money) will be sold as a temporary measure that quickly become permanent, as the economy will crater the moment it is withdrawn.
The temporary relief turns out to be, well, heroin, and the Cold Turkey withdrawal, full-blown depression.