Queasing: sign the petition in The Times!

The Times has launched a petition to get the term “quantitative easing” replaced by the more manageable “queasing”, as suggested by one of their readers.

Aside from being easier to get your tongue around, “queasing” does have an appropriately queasy ring about it. After all, what we’re really talking about is printing money. Where “quantitative easing” sounds like a descriptor for the relief provided by a dose of colonic irrigation, “queasing” captures the feeling one gets when contemplating the possibility that your government has been taking economic advice from Robert Mugabe’s finance minister.

So whether you care about language or are simply worried about the prospect of Weimar Republic-style hyperinflation, I urge you to sign the petition here.

See also my post on Seven pernicious euphemisms of the current financial crisis.

6 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. Rhodri Marsden says:

    I get a bit annoyed with this idea that quantitative easing is some kind of hair-brained last act of desperation, with terms like hyperinflation being bandied about. I’ve seen economists advising this measure for months, now. It’s obviously far from ideal, but the media using parallels like Weimar and Zimbabwe isn’t particularly helpful.

  2. Clare Lynch says:

    Thanks for passing by, Rhodri. Do you think, then, that our economic woes are being exacerbated by the media “talking the economy down”? Personally, I’ve never been convinced by that argument – markets seem to have a momentum of their own. What’s more, no-one ever complains that the media isn’t being “helpful” when talking markets up into a grossly inflated bubble (e.g. the housing boom that’s now turning to bust).

    My beef about “quantitative easing” is that it is deliberately innocuous-sounding in an attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about creating money out of thin air. Comparison with Weimar and Zimbabwe is only as alarmist as “quantitative easing” is deceptively bland.

  3. real gent says:

    peston-itis abounds. the more people worry about money, the less they spend, the less they spend, the less there is to employ people, the less jobs there are the more people worry about money.

    personally – i’m pouring a large gin and waiting for it to all pass by. as for queasing, it makes me feel slightly ill as a word and an activity.

  4. Clare Lynch says:

    Real Gent – with a tin foil hat on, I hope?

  5. Rhodri Marsden says:

    What’s more, no-one ever complains that the media isn’t being “helpful” when talking markets up into a grossly inflated bubble

    No, of course not, but that doesn’t mean that the media isn’t having an effect. The health of the economy is based on confidence. The media relentlessly saps that confidence. Obviously there are factors way, way bigger than the media that are exacerbating the downturn, but I don’t doubt that it has an effect. I wish fervently that the media would be more sober in its reporting of money-related stories, but I feel the same way about every kind of story. Unfortunately, sober reporting doesn’t sell newspapers.

    I honestly don’t think the term is deceitful. Q.E. isn’t actually “printing money” – it’s just the bank creating a huge IOU to the government and then using the artificially created balance to lend cash – which is why it isn’t called “printing money”. What term would you prefer? You might prefer it if the government referred to it as “creating money out of thin air”, but that’s unnecessarily alarmist, too. This ain’t the government printing money to meet its own bills – as in Zimbabwe – it’s a central bank easing credit markets.

  6. Clare Lynch says:

    You’re right, it’s not the government printing money to meet its own bills. it’s an organisation owned by the government buying government bonds (aka debt) from investors, including banks, many of which are majority owned by the government. Using money that previously didn’t exist.

    Even the FT – a bastion of sober reporting that sells quite well and is the only paper that’s really worth reading – has compared QE to the policies of Robert Mugabe. I really don’t think it’s irresponsible to question the potential consequences of a very risky strategy that affects us all.

    Or, as in my case, simply to question the language used to describe that strategy.

    Quite the contrary, in fact.

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