Friday, November 12, 2010

Euphemisms for "printing money"

The world is not overall better off when someone just "makes money out of thin air".  Nobody thinks that if a counterfeiter prints money the world is better off.  When money is printed some people become better off and some become worse off.  Let's call the people who become worse off "suckers".  The more people who do not understand what is going on the easier it is to have a good supply of suckers.   So the powers that be often try to keep people confused.  One way is talking about "making new money" using lots of different and confusing terms.   To try to help clear things up I am collecting euphemisms for "printing money".  I also have a video with these euphemisms. Here is my collection so far.
  1. accommodative monetary policy 
  2. achieving price stability 
  3. acting to the detriment of creditors
  4. adding to bank reserves
  5. adding liquidity
  6. aggressive monetary policy
  7. ample liquidity 
  8. acquiring Treasury securities on the open market and only on a temporary basis 
  9. asset price inflation
  10. asset purchase plan 
  11. asset swap
  12. bailouts (*) 
  13. banana republic
  14. Bernanke's toolkit 
  15. bond-buying by the U.S. central bank 
  16. central bank financing of government deficits
  17. cheapen the currency 
  18. collecting an inflation tax
  19. conjuring money up from the ether with black magic Fed spells
  20. creating inflation 
  21. creating money 
  22. creating money electronically
  23. creating excess reserves 
  24. creating reserves ‘ex nihilo’ 
  25. crediting bank reserve accounts
  26. CTRL+P
  27. currency intervention 
  28. currency manipulation 
  29. dangerous experiments with our currency  
  30. default by stealth
  31. deficit accommodating
  32. deficits don't matter
  33. deficit spending *
  34. dovish monetary policy 
  35. debasing the currency
  36. debasement
  37. destroying the value of the dollar
  38. devaluing the currency 
  39. disbursing currency
  40. dollar conjuring  
  41. driving the dollar down 
  42. dump more dollars onto the market
  43. easing credit 
  44. easing credit conditions
  45. easing monetary policy
  46. easy monetary policy
  47. easy money
  48. ensuring sufficient liquidity
  49. expansionary monetary policy
  50. expanding high powered money
  51. expanding liquidity
  52. expanding the Fed's balance sheet
  53. expanding the global supply of dollars
  54. Fed purchasing debt
  55. Fed’s purchase program
  56. fighting deflation 
  57. free money
  58. fully sovereign in its own currency
  59. funding the deficit
  60. government thievery
  61. helicopter drop 
  62. helping exports with cheaper dollars 
  63. imagineering money
  64. imposing an inflation tax
  65. increasing the money supply
  66. inflating away the debt
  67. inflation
  68. inflation targeting
  69. implementing alternative monetary policy
  70. increasing the monetary base 
  71. injecting money into the economy 
  72. issuing fiat currency 
  73. issuing reserves
  74. just monetary policy  (Bernanke)
  75. keep the short-term interest rate at exceptionally low levels
  76. Keynesian economics
  77. liquidity enhancement  
  78. liquidity injection 
  79. liquidity management operations
  80. liquidity operations
  81. loose monetary policy
  82. lowering interest rates 
  83. low-rate monetary policy 
  84. LTRO -  long term refinancing operation
  85. making money
  86. marvelous monetary sweetener
  87. modern monetary theory (MMT) 
  88. MMT like policy
  89. monetizing the debt
  90. monetization
  91. monetary diarrhea
  92. monetary expansion
  93. monetary policy tools 
  94. money out of thin air
  95. money rains
  96. mortgage security purchase program 
  97. no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society
  98. nontraditional policies 
  99. not monetizing the debt 
  100. not printing money
  101. open market operations 
  102. outright monetary transactions (OMT)
  103. papering over problems 
  104. playing god with the economy
  105. plucking money from a money tree
  106. policy of dollar depreciation 
  107. preventing the currency from strengthening
  108. printing money 
  109. promiscuous easing
  110. promoting price stability
  111. providing additional accommodation
  112. providing liquidity
  113. pump-priming 
  114. pumping money into the banking system
  115. pushing inflation upward
  116. pushing up inflation to levels consistent with our mandate (Bernanke) 
  117. qualitative and quantitative easing
  118. quantitative easing
  119. quantitative counterfeiting
  120. QE
  121. QE1
  122. QE2
  123. QE3
  124. QE Infinity
  125. QE to infinity and beyond 
  126. QE Tapering
  127. recipe for financial disaster 
  128. retiring Treasuries
  129. ruinous monetary insanity
  130. run the printing presses
  131. seigniorage
  132. solution to the credit crunch 
  133. sowing the seeds of future inflation
  134. spending without borrowing
  135. stemming disinflationary pressures
  136. stimulus (*) 
  137. supplying banks with extra cash 
  138. supporting the economic recovery
  139. surreptitious transfer of wealth 
  140. the punch bowl
  141. the US can always meet its financial obligations that are denominated in US dollars
  142. throwing money out of helicopters
  143. trick people into working for lower real wages - See page 9 of  Keynes "The General Theory"
  144. unconventional policy tools 
  145. unconventional monetary policy
  146. unsterilized intervention
  147. weakening the dollar
  148. Not QE
  149. Nothing like QE 
  150. QE4Ever 
  151. In no sense is this QE 
  152. Not-QE4
  153. MP1 - Monetary Policy 1
  154. MP2 - Monetary Policy 2
  155. MP3 - Monetary Policy 3
If you know other euphemisms for "printing money"  please post them them in the comments.

Some people try to make a big deal out of the fact that often money is represented on computers and not actually printed.  First, the Fed would print paper money if banks wanted delivery from their account.    From Bernanke's helicopter paper we know he understands this equivalence from his comment, "But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost."  Also, from Bernanke's fantastic video we can see the electronic and paper money are essentially the same. 

A few of the above terms can also theoretically be used when reducing the money supply but that hardly ever happens.

The point of a euphemism is to make something not sound as bad as it really is.   Most of these are trying to hid the badness of "printing money".  However, some like "monetary diarrhea" are clearly used by people who are not happy with money printing. 

This reminds me of the idea that Eskimos who spend a lot of time on snow would have a lot of words for snow.  Seems like Americans spend a lot of time printing new money.

(*) In the case of the starred terms the government is deficit spending, which will lead to more money printing, but it is arguably not a true euphemism for "printing money".


  1. Bailouts and stimulus are usually counted as "fiscal policy" but since these will clearly lead to more money printing I have added them with a (*) and explanation.


  2. open market operations
    adding liquidity
    currency intervention
    dovish monetary policy

    The list goes on and on. I could do this all day.


  3. my all time favorite...drum roll..

    liquidity enhancement

  4. POMO
    debt securitization
    inflation targeting

    Liquidity enhancement is still my all time favorite.


  5. targeting asset prices


  6. MBS rollover


  7. asset purchases
    money rains
    monetary policy tools
    Bernanke's toolkit

    homebuyer tax credit * ?
    cash for clunkers * ?


  8. Thanks folks! We are at 45 after less than 12 hours. Keep them coming!

  9. monetary policy beyond the zero bound
    creating excess reserves


  10. unsterilized intervention


  11. increasing the monetary base
    implementing alternative monetary policy
    disbursing currency
    distributing new wealth


  12. funding the deficit


  13. easing monetary policy
    easy monetary policy
    expansionary monetary policy
    expanding liquidity
    providing liquidity
    easing credit conditions (perhaps more of an intended effect)


  14. fighting deflation

    oh, this is my favorite right up there with liquidity enhancement


  15. unconventional policy tools


    I'm finally starting to run a little thin on ideas.

  16. achieving price stability


  17. promoting price stability
    providing additional accommodation


  18. stemming disinflationary pressures


  19. how about "bending over my saved dollar"

  20. how about just "cheating"

  21. After 6 days we have 83! I think we will be past 100 soon.

  22. I think "monetary diarrhea" is my new favorite!

  23. You forgot plain old:

    deficit spending *

    You suggest it in the footnote, but it really should be right there in the list directly (starred of course)

    Also -- in your footnote you're missing an "r" in the word "starred"

    (my favorites: "fighting deflation" and "liquidity enhancement")

  24. Thanks much for both of those. Fixed them.

  25. Wow! Impressive. Thanks Vince.


  26. You have a duplicate -- "helicopter drop" and "throwing money out of helicopters"

  27. "The world is not overall better off when someone just "makes money out of thin air". Nobody thinks that if a counterfeiter prints money the world is better off."

    These two sentences are where you go wrong!

    Actually, sometimes the world IS better off when a counterfeiter prints money!

    Money is the "lubricant" of the economy. When there isn't enough in circulation among ordinary people, productive activity grinds to a halt. Printing money and getting it into the hands of the lower and middle classes alleviates this problem and gets everyone back to work. *It doesn't matter whether counterfeiters do it or whether the government does*. There is strong evidence that in Victorian England, there were periods where over 20% of the money was counterfeit, and it seems to have actually helped the economy (because monetary policy from the Bank of England was way too tight). Counterfeiters were supplying something the economy needed.

    So, yeah, lots of euphemisms for printing money. But printing money, while sometimes bad, is sometimes an unequivocally good thing. Take for the extreme example a society with NO money, a barter society. You print the money, you help the society.

  28. Um, one further, crucial note to what I just wrote about how valuable printing of money is:

    It matters who you give the printed money to. It matters a lot.

    It only helps if it's going to people who are "cash flow constrained", who can't get people to trade with them because of lack of money.

    It doesn't help at all if the printed money is going to banks, who can actually print money on their own just as effectively as the government (start thinking about how they operate and what a "check" really is -- it's money -- you'll figure it out).

  29. The Fed is not printing money and giving it to the lower and middle class people, they give it to the banks. Can we agree that what they really do does not help then?

  30. I added "CTRL+P" which people have started using. I like it.

  31. I think "QE to infinity and beyond" may be my current favorite. It seems funny that Mish, a deflationist, has said this one.

    We are now up to 132!


    Tell it like it is.


Looking for polite debate on ideas. Never attack a person. Be nice.