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Baccardax: Viewers Sound Off on On-Air Spat

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2009 | 9:07 AM ET

The Cardinal rules of any good dinner party are universally understood: keep your elbows off the table, chew your food with your mouth closed, go light on the vino and stay away from religion and politics.

We might have strayed a bit from the rulebook this morning as we sat back and watched hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry of Eclectica lock horns with Liam Halligan, the chief economist at Prosperity Capital and maverick columnist for the UK’s Telegraph newspaper.

While they might have been arguing, at least on the surface, about the direction of consumer prices (Hugh predicts deflation, Liam worries about inflation) make no mistake about the essence of the debate: it was all about religion and politics.

“Watching Hugh Hendry put me in mind of Jesus in the temple angrily overturning the stalls of the money lenders that had taken over the holy temple,” said one viewer.

Market Mavens Lock Horns
As the Bank of England prepared to launch its asset-buying program Wednesday, Liam Halligan from Prosperity Capital Management and Hugh Hendry from Eclectica locked horns over how quantitative easing will affect the economy.

“The exchange between Hugh and Liam at the end of the show revealed the struggle to see the future of the free market,” added another.

Once the dust had settled, however, it seemed the two had agreed on one critical point: the ultimate failure of the Bank of England’s £150 billion ($207 billion) quantitative easing strategy.

That’s not to say it didn’t get a bit testy; one American viewer suggested that “Nights I spent as a cop arresting drunk drivers in Los Angeles were less contentious”, although he was quick to add that “I very rarely arrested a Scotsman.”

Have a look and see what you think. Also, read what others had to say about it:

Christopher Locke, oystertrade.com

"I wanted to get away for my Nordic walking but got glued to the set watching the discussion between the two boys. Well handled by you. Great stuff. Hugh looked a bit taken aback by the fight back! Other guest was good and gave his money's worth."

Martin Wall, Chapin, SC, USA

"It's 4.40 am EST and I can't tear myself away from the TV and get off to bed. It's riveting viewing whether you agree with Hugh or the other guests.

I watch a lot of CNBC during the day in the States and you very rarely get this type of frank and illuminating interaction between guests and anchors. A bit like holding quicksilver I'm sure but fascinating for viewers."

Tim Nhamo, Focused Finance, Zimbabwe

"A view from a country where quantitative easing didn’t work.

The problem with quantitative easing is that it papers over the cracks and fixes nothing. I am not saying that the UK and US will experience Zimbabwean inflation. However, what could happen is that those with access to funding will do better than those without access to funding.

Who is getting access to funding? The banks via bailouts. It is no accident that when banks in the US initially received government money, they went out and bought other banks. In the eyes of management it's a lower risk strategy than advancing loans to businesses.

At some point all of the money being pumped into the US and UK economy will aggregate somewhere. Whoever gets access to that funding will buy assets dirt cheap and when the global economy eventually gets back on track (if at all), those lucky few will be even luckier.

In Zimbabwe we went through more than five years of quantitative easing and when everything came to an end all we have come to realize is that the real economy is a fraction of what it was."

Luc Chase, UK

"Quantitative Easing is a good attempt but it won't work. People need to feel confident again and QE ain't gonna do it. Think of it as a death in the family ... sudden extra cash does not remove the bereavement. Those who think that central banks can fix this are being too mechanistic."

Ian Johnson

"Logic dictates to me that if asset prices are lower and there are no increasing quantities of assets, and the amount of money to buy them is being increased, then inflation must be the result. It's just a question of how long it will take for that to happen."

Andrew Maidstone, UK

"At last a match for Hugh!! Strange thing is - in many ways I think they agreed."

Contact Europe: Economy

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