Here's Adair Turner's question:
[About Japan]...why wouldn't it been better still to do what Friedman said was the correct policy post facto in the 1930s, which is "helicopter money". Why wouldn't a better policy had been for the Japanese government to simply run fully, overtly, monetized deficits so that the last [inaudible] percent of GDP was not in the form of a debt contract held by the Japanese private sector but was in the form of absolute, categoric fiat money? (at 2:30 here)This is Mario Seccareccia's response:
[About the] issue which had been raised about fiscal policy and the "helicopter drop" [vs conventional deficit spending]. That's a false dichotomy. I mean, deficit spending is -- in a sense -- monetization all the time. [Bond issuance is] how the central bank then behaves to clear or sterilize -- so to speak -- those reserves in the system in order to meet its interest rate policy. Period. There is no such thing as a "helicopter" doing this. It's always done through deficit spending fundamentally, I would argue. (at 9:00 here)The point to remember when thinking about a central bank's ability to inject exogenous increases in reserve balances is that in a monetary regime such as Japan (and the UK for that matter) where the central bank targets an interest rate and the remuneration rate on reserves balances isn't set at the same level as its target interest rate, the central bank can't conduct offensive open market operations aimed at increasing the amount of reserve balances without simultaneously frustrating its goal of keeping its benchmark interest rate on target. Under such a regime the central bank's ability to control money growth is essentially limited to conducting defensive open market operations aimed at keeping its interest rate on target.
UPDATE: A very detailed look at the "helicopter drop" issue is found in Scott Fullwiler's article "Helicopter drops are fiscal operations" (2010). For a general discussion on offensive vs defensive open market operations, see Lombra, Herendeen and Torto, Money and the Financial System, page 425, 1980.