Feb 10, 2014

Why can't US Fed print more money to remove global poverty? Just $ 120 billion more.

Is there any hope for the world's poor? Can poverty be made history? 

Every high-level Summit ends up with a call to remove poverty. The World Economic Forum too has been talking about removing poverty, and more recently it campaigned for removing hunger in our lifetime. A few weeks back at Davos in Switzerland the UN Secy Gen Ban Ki-Moon in fact led those who signed on a Zero Hunger campaign. Well, if everyone is so concerned, why is that hunger and poverty continues to grow despite all the global efforts being made to hide the realities (and play down the embarrassing statistics).

The answer is simple. The political leadership is not honest in addressing hunger and poverty.

An Oxfam International report: The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all (See the pdf here: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cost-of-inequality-oxfam-mb180113.pdf) tells us that the world's top richest 100 people earned enough money in 2012 to end global poverty four times over. This comes to $ 240 billion they earned in 2012.

More recently, the TIME magazine had a report entitled: One State to destroy your faith in humanity: The World's 85 richest people own as much as the 3.5 bullion poorest (See the link here: http://business.time.com/2014/01/20/worlds-85-wealthiest-people-as-rich-as-3-5-billion-poorest/). Based on a report prepared by Oxfam, it said that the world's richest shared a wealth of 1 trillion Pound Sterling which is what the poorest 3.5 billion, half the world's population, has. What is more startling is the despite such statistics that obviously destroy our faith in humanity and also in political and economic leadership that does nothing to curb such "power grab" by a handful of wealthy families, empty slogans of fighting hunger or removing poverty are thrown at us unabashedly.

All this is happening at a time when the US Fed has decided to taper its bond-buying programme by another $ 0 billion. Beginning Feb 2014, US Fed will now be purchasing bonds worth $ 65 billion now. This tapering of its little understood Quantitative Easing programme actually began in January when it reduced bond purchases by $ 10 billion. Earlier, for 15 months, US had gone in for a QE programme which meant that the US Fed was buying bonds worth $ 85 billion every month. In other words, in 15 months, US Fed had made available US $ 1,275 billion to its investors before it began the tapering exercise.

Now what is Quantitative Easing? Now don't get bogged down by this largely unexplained phrase and give me an economic description. It's all a play of sophisticated vocabulary. Put simply it means US was on a dollar-printing exercise. By February 2014, US Fed had actually been buying extra dollars that have been printed all these months, and if you include the taper figures since Jan 2014, it had actually flooded the market with a surplus $ 1,415 billion.

How much money did the Oxfam International say that is required to remover poverty four times over? It said $ 240 billion. Now this figure actually is for removing poverty four times over. I think it will be fair to seek investments that can remove poverty twice at least. I think this is a fair calculation considering a lot of overlapping and hidden costs.

If poverty disappear I am sure you will agree that hunger will be completely wiped out. With hunger disappearing, and poverty becoming history the world not only head towards an egalitarian state but also see the economics of happiness coming into play. It's extreme poverty, hunger, disease and squalor that still shames the humanity.

And this makes me wonder if the US can simply print $ 1,415 billion to prop its own sagging economy, why can't it print another $120 billion that is required to wipe out poverty twice over? Well, that's not difficult. Surely, and I believe President Barack Obama has a dream of a world free of hunger and poverty. On Jan 9, 2014 he had named five economically challenged areas of the country that will receive a series of tax incentives and government grants as part of his efforts to combat poverty across the country. His concern for the poor is certainly evident. But what perhaps he doesn't realise it that with a little more effort he can probably lead the world in making poverty history.

Yes, he can.

My appeal to you Mr President is very simple. Please extend your Quantitative Easing programme and give an additional $ 120 billion to a group of international organisations (with backing from G-20) to launch a time bound programme to remove poverty. We all know that the biggest stumbling block in fighting poverty has been the availability of resources. Now we know it is possible. US Fed has shown that availability of money is not such a big problem as we envisaged earlier. Simply print some more money.

This is your opportunity to carve your name permanently in history, Mr President.We don't have to wait for our lifetime to remove poverty. We can certainly do it in the next few years.


vizeet srivastava said...

US is printing not to improve its economy but to avoid default. Since 2011 US is not able to sell debt bond to fill debt gap so it needs to print.
FED is trying to keep its economy in slowdown so that banks don't lend money and business don't expand its operation and at the same time economy does not fall into recession. US monetary base is 4 times since 2008 if it enters into circulation it will have spiral effect which will bring whole economy down.
If it tries to solve poverty problem in its own country it will get into hyperinflation, then why will US care to solve poverty?

Nikhil Sheth said...

There is a simple reason why the major leaders of the world and the leading richest people, are not ending poverty even when, as you've shown, there is enough resources available. The reason is this : They don't want to. Their best self interests are served when maximum number of people are in poverty.