Last year the BBC’s head of multimedia Mary Hockaday told an audience at the LSE that:
On the economy, audiences have been telling us for months they are desperate to understand – but that the stories are complex and full of jargon.
She went on to ask:
How many of you would be happy explaining quantitative easing to a friend in the pub? I mean really?
Charlie Beckett tells us that ‘not a single hand’ went up in the audience.
It’s a fair enough question. But it raises another … why don’t we understand quantitative easing? Is it possible that the dear old BBC is part of the answer?
This latest attempt, from Stephanie Flanders, is a sight less confusing than some of the Corporation’s previous efforts, which involved baffling similes about filling cars up with imaginary petrol, piggy banks, and who knows what else.* But while it is true enough that the Bank of England creates new money ‘at the touch of a button’ it still doesn’t explain exactly how the process works, nor does it put QE in the context of the monetary system as a whole.
Quite why the BBC still fights shy of explaining where money comes from, I don’t know. Do they journalists simply not know? Or are they just unwilling to discuss such things devant les enfants?
*The Flanders clip has replaced one in which the presenter excitedly told viewers that ‘it’s like filling a car up with imaginary petrol!’ I hope it is still available online somewhere.