Look, it was really quite dull waiting to be called into the jury room two weeks ago. So forgive me for this. When the big document comes out, please read that instead; it has graphs too.

The ballad of Mervyn's shovel
A year ago the credit crunch had reached its grim nadir
The economy in freefall, money markets gripped by fear
The FTSE tumbled every day, banks tottered left and right
Making factories stand silent, and our currency take fright.
The only shop with customers was called JobCentre Plus
And the truly self deluded begged Beijing to rescue us

Loud sobs were heard in Downing Street:  "There's no more cash to spend
Without the government buying things, this surely is the end -
- we've shot our final bolt, and interest rates can fall no more" ...
when knocked the Bank of England Governor, with a shovel, on the door.
Behind him, spewing green stuff, steamed a money printing press
and he smirked "I've got the very thing to save us from this mess"

Both the Chancellor's mighty eyebrows took a leap towards the ceiling
The money flooding out gave him that 'Denis Healey' feeling.
"Infla..." he checked himself. "Guv'nor, I'm rather disappointed"
"To inflate away our troubles wasn't why you were annointed"
But the Guv'nor mollified with words like "money multiply"
till the Chancellor signed the letter with a wary, weary sigh. 

All year the money flooded out.  At first you couldn't tell
Though the Chancellor's many IOU's have never sold so well
Then the City caught a handful of this newly-printed stuff
so that bonds, shares and derivatives, and such financial fluff,
began to rocket skywards, making City spivs seem clever
And they paid themselves as if it came just from their own endeavour.

But despite the Govnor's shovel, money doesn't multiply
Because it's being shovelled far from where the problems lie.
You see, the Lady of Threadneedle Street's a curious kind of prude
Who'll debauch herself on public debt, but think it beastly crude
to grant her money favours in the world of private credit
Even though a loss is still a loss, not matter what risk bred it. 

And so this money flood, that sometimes seemed to be unending
Stayed trapped within the City world. The banks were still not lending:
To businessman or householder, this 'quantitiative easing'
- that's meant to fill the world with cash - is monetary teasing.
You read about it, see it, but like smoke upon the air
you say "Well I'd like some of that", reach out - but it's not there. 

It's great if you have art to sell. Or some fine London pad.
But if you're poor and need the cash, there's nothing to be had.
It's great if you've a bunch of shares - for those already wealthy,
the year since what they call 'QE' has been quite nice and healthy.
But surely this was not the point. Why do this money printing
just to help those lucky sorts that hardly need such extra minting?

UPDATE:  Paul Cotterill has formalised the poetry competition on QE here. And extra points will be awarded for anyone including a discussion of the pound sterling, as mentioned on John Redwood’s blog, and how it has in fact risen by 10% against the dollar since  QE began . . .


17 thoughts on “QE in 462 words: the ballad of Mervyn’s shovel

  1. Brilliant. Blogspot of the year to date.

    QE in 32 words (class-based version)

    There’s this bloke who runs England’s Bank.
    He saw the economy starting to tank.
    So he doled out the dosh
    To those who are posh,
    And they used it to maintain their rank.

    This could run and run.

  2. Excellent! I hereby announce a free copy of the publication to the best limerick expressing the distributional unfairness of the Bank’s monetary stance . . .. spread the word

    Two free copies to the rest . . .

    Paul, thanks for making my day.

    1. Now I feel positively uneconomical with words . . . and that is before the 20,000 word monster comes out. Respect.

  3. Giles

    Competition started over at TCF. Can be run in parallel though. Have taken position as main judge but you can be expert advisor.

  4. Giles, this is a fantastic piece of work. Here’s my stab at a limerick:

    The Old Lady was most displeased
    That credit was painfully squeezed
    She made billions from nought
    And yet I must report
    My own bank balance is uneased

    And I’ve also, for nothing resembling a good reason, tried a longer poem. Hardly compares to yours, though!

    1. Tom, that is BRILLIANT, tears of laughter here. I’m going to have to write a new post to draw attention to it.

      Paul C, extend the competition to Friday. This one has a new winner in the lead….

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