Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver recently ran a segment in which he slated Jill Stein’s proposal to eliminate student debt through quantitative easing:
His criticism seemed to suggest that the Federal Reserve is obviously irrelevant in this policy area:
It’s basically akin to saying, ‘I’ll make us energy independent by ordering the Post Office to invade Canada.’ No, Jill. That’s impractical, it’s a terrible idea, and you don’t seem to understand anything about it.
Oliver, who is usually quite perceptive and well-informed, gets this wrong, and he gets it wrong in no small part because monetary policy is complicated and difficult to understand, both in terms of the economics and in terms of the politics. So let’s talk about how Stein’s idea works.