Dear Mr. Buiter,
It was a long time ago when I first met you. There was an economic conference, forgive me for not remembering where it was, I, as a young economist, eager to learn, was able to attend. In a room full of academic peers, who were all carefully listening to a presentation by one of their own, all of a sudden a loud scream broke the silence. The scream ‘bullocks’ was bouncing off the walls of the room. Everyone turned his/her head only to find out it was you who said that (or should I say dared to say it?).
This perfectly illustrate the image you have, of an excellent economist who is not afraid, indeed thinks it’s necessary, to think out of the box. That and the fact that you combine that with a gift of being able to write eloquently and attractively about very abstract and/or complex economic subjects was the main reason why your blog over at the Financial Times was so popular. Today, I came across another example of all of this. I just read you propose abolishing cash so central banks can drive nominal interest rates far below zero if and when needed. As always I enjoyed reading this paper from your desk as well. As always, some questions and remarks emerged. Only this time I could not keep them to myself. That is the reason I sat down to write this letter to you.
Dear Mr. Buiter, I was wondering, is the existence of cash the problem or the fact that those institutions we entrusted with the task of keeping our money sound have made a mess out of it (to put it mildly because many is a word that comes to my mind when trying to describe the track record of central banks)? Yes the fact. I do not intend to give the evidence here and now, it is neither time nor the place for it, but I will gladly send you a copy of my book Geldmoord: hoe de centrale banken ons geld vernietigen in which I argue and provide (historical) evidence of that fact. As an economist who is a big fan of thinking and writing out of the box, you just might like it.
I know you are extremely busy so I have no idea whether you will read this or not (that is why the subject line reads Bullocks, maybe it will get your attention just as you did on that conference somewhere in Europe) although I used every way possible to get this message through to you including Facebook where we have been friends from July 2007! That is why I have limited myself to this one question, figuring it might increase the chance of actually getting a response.
I am looking forward to your answer.
Best, your fellow monetary economist,
Fri, 10 April