Skip to main content

Reducing Government Debt

How can Western governments reduce their debts without implementing austerity programmes? One obvious way is to run a mild inflationary policy (3 to 4%) for a decade  This would substantially reduce the real value of the principal which has to be repaid. Another way to reduce the government's debt burden would be to monetise it i.e., have the central bank buy government bonds with newly-created money. At present, the Bank of England holds £375bn of UK government debt. The accumulated interest on this debt (approx. £30bn) has been reclaimed by the Treasury, which ultimately reduces the amount the government has to borrow. In other words, the government is effectively paying no interest on its debt! However, there is an even more radical way for the government debt burden to be reduced - the Bank of England could simply forgive the £375bn debt which it holds! What would stop it from doing so?

Popular posts from this blog

The Failure of Herstatt Bank

As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of

Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles

Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles, co-authored with my colleague Will Quinn , is forthcoming in August. It is published by Cambridge University Press and is available for pre-order at Amazon , Barnes and Noble , Waterstones and Cambridge University Press . 

The Great Depression

Marginal Revolution University has a great video on the Great Depression.