Given all the chatter in the blogosphere about “Helicopter Ben” Bernanke, it’s probably time to look more carefully at the actual accounting behind so-called “helicopter drops of money,” made famous years ago by Milton Friedman. As most everyone knows, the idea behind a hypothetical helicopter drop is that the central bank would essentially drop currency from a helicopter in an effort to stimulate aggregate spending. One could modernize the story and presume that the central bank credits X number of dollars to the bank (deposit) accounts of all (or even some) individuals. And while traditionally it’s been presumed that it would be the Fed that would be dropping money from the helicopter(s), it could just as easily be action taken by the Treasury – e.g. by requiring the Treasury to take an overdraft on its account at the central bank via mandate from Congress and the President.
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