by Dr. Mahathir bin Mohama
1. No. QE II is not short for Queen Elizabeth II. Nor is it about the great cruise ship QE II.
2. It is about Quantitative Easing II, i.e. quantitative easing for the second time.
3. What is quantitative easing? It is about printing and issuing money to overcome a financial problem. Lately Britain has printed 75 billion pounds to help distressed banks and others.
4. It is very innovative. And very easy. When you lose money just print the replacement. If Malaysia had done a Q.E. during the Asian Currency Crisis, what would the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the financial and monetary experts say?
5. We would be condemned. We would be told that the Malaysian economy would collapse. They would make dark predictions about black markets in dollars as the Ringgit would be useless. It would be rejected. It is not money!! etc. etc.
6. But the United States of America did a Quantitative Easing with the printing and issuing of three trillion dollars to help distressed banks and insurance companies. Now Britain is following in the footsteps of elder brother.
7. How nice it would be if our pocket is picked, we are allowed to print some money to replace what is lost. But of course we cannot. Even our country cannot, although our central bank, unlike the Federal Reserve Bank of America, is Government owned.
8. We were told that the best way to handle a financial crisis was to let our banks and businesses go bankrupt. How that would help I do not know. What I could see were people being thrown out of jobs and any number of social problems. But that was the “conventional wisdom”. Why are the great institutions not advising Western Governments to let businesses go bankrupt?
9. Ah! But they did. Lehman Brothers was allowed to go bankrupt. Did it solve the financial crisis? No. As far as I can tell the crisis simply got worse and refused to go away.
10. They resorted to all the things they told us not to do when our financial situation was in a tailspin as the currency traders devalued the Ringgit. They bailed out failed companies and banks with huge sums of money, they stop short selling, they talk of controlling the currency traders, etc. etc.
11. We recovered by doing the forbidden. But they have not recovered. My feeling as an economic and financial ignoramus is that they are not going to recover any time soon. They will not recover because they are still in a state of denial. They still believe they are rich, as rich as before they plunged into the crisis. And believing that they can somehow continue to remain rich, they are unable to behave like poor people.
12. So they have not stopped spending. They are ever prepared to go to war, to produce costly weapons, to do research on more killing machines, to maintain military bases all over the world, operate huge fleets of war ships and military aircraft, updating them etc. etc. They must keep up the big power wealthy country image even if their people have no jobs, riot and protest.
13. The great financial crisis will be with us for a long time. Even when it is resolved the aftermath will see slow recovery for the giants of the west. They will find difficulties in returning to doing real business of producing goods, providing services and trading.