Michael Hudson on the ECB and eurozone national central banks’ restricted abilities to purchase government debt:
Their banks have perpetuated the “road to serfdom” myth that a central bank runs the danger of fueling inflation if it creates money – in contrast to commercial banks, which supposedly run no such danger if they create money on their own computer keyboards. It is not considered inflationary for them to charge interest to the government, which then needs to pay by taxing the economy at large.
When you find this kind of distortion being popularized and even written into law, there always is a special interest at work. The supposed contrast between “bad” central banks and “good” commercial banks is a lobbying effort seeking to monopolize credit creation in the hands of commercial banks, by promoting a travesty of how central banks are supposed to act.
The reality is that commercial banks have fueled an enormous asset-price inflation in recent years. The debt they have created imposes an interest burden that deflates the economy – even while adding to the cost of living and doing business. Meanwhile, central banks monetize government deficits that are supposed to spur recovery, not simply be giveaways to financial institutions and other vested interests. …
Whether a bank is private or public, money and credit are created electronically on computer keyboards. So it is a myth that government money is more inflationary. But this myth has a political function reflecting private self-interest: it blocks the “public option” of creating money without paying interest to banks which have obtained the privilege of creating credit freely. They are not lending out peoples’ savings deposits, but are creating deposits much like they used to print bank notes. They then look for customers willing to pay interest.
Hudson, a Research Associate here at the Institute, was interviewed for the “Guns and Butter” radio program on the topic of debt deflation in the eurozone and the US. (Transcript posted over at Naked Capitalism).