Since 2009, when policy rates reached their effective lower bound, quantitative easing (QE) has become an important instrument of central bank monetary policy. It is aimed to work via long-term yields. The literature confirms that QE helped lower long-term yields. But the yields have two components – expectations and term premia – and open questions remain: does QE reduce yields via expected rates or term premia? And which channel is more efficient in stimulating the economy? In our research paper, we find evidence that QE often worked through signalling and term-premia effects simultaneously. But the two main QE channels are transmitted to financial markets and the real-economy in different ways, and only signalling is found to have ultimately affected inflation significantly.
Julia Giese, Michael Joyce, Jack Meaning and Jack Worlidge
Every financial market transaction has two parties, each with their own preferences. One channel through which quantitative easing works rests on these differences: preferred habitat investors value certain assets above others for non-pecuniary reasons, beyond risk and return. Central bank asset purchases of the preferred asset create scarcity, which may lead to compensating price adjustment, with spillovers to other assets and the macroeconomy. There is, however, little hard evidence on these investors. In a staff working paper, we use a new granular data set on gilt market holdings and transactions to identify groups of investors with preferred portfolio duration habitats. We present a case study suggesting that the Bank’s purchases appear to have come disproportionately from one group of these investors with a relatively strong preference for specific gilt maturities.
Quantitative easing (QE) involves creating new central bank reserves to fund asset purchases. Deposited in the reserves account of the seller’s bank, these reserves can have implications for banks’ asset mixes. In our paper, we use balance sheet data for 118 UK banks to empirically investigate whether the asset compositions of banks involved in the UK QE operations reacted differently in comparison to banks not involved in the initial rounds of QE between March 2009 and July 2012.
In the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008, nominal interest rates in the US and other advanced economies have approached the effective lower bound (ELB). This fact has motivated new research to understand, both theoretically and empirically, the impact of monetary policies when the nominal policy rate is at the ELB. In a new paper, we show that accounting for balance sheet policies (QE) can ease the constraints imposed by the ELB on monetary policy and resolve several paradoxical results arising in canonical New Keynesian models at the ELB. The ‘paradox of flexibility’, the ‘paradox of toil’ and the puzzle of excessively large fiscal multipliers are all resolved when QE is added to the model as policy tool.
During 2020 the MPC announced a further £450 billion of QE purchases, slightly more than the total amount of assets purchased over the preceding ten years, taking the target QE stock to £875 billion of gilt holdings and £20 billion of sterling investment-grade corporate bonds. We study the high-frequency reaction of gilt markets to these QE announcements in light of the surprises to market expectations of the future QE path. We find the yield reactions to be broadly consistent with news about the expected medium-term stock of QE. This is in line with recent commentary, which has focused on the ‘pace of purchases’, as a faster/slower pace translated into a larger/lower stock of expected purchases, and could capture the effects of the local supply channel. The reaction to news about purchase pace could also be potentially consistent with an impact on expected liquidity premia or expected policy rates.
Ben Bernanke famously remarked that “the trouble with QE is that it works in practice but not in theory”. And ahead of its adoption, many academics were sceptical that QE would have any effects at all. Yet despite QE being a part of the monetary policy landscape for nearly a decade, the bulk of academic research on QE has been on its empirical effect, with relatively little on theory and less still on normative policy questions. In a recent Staff Working Paper I develop a model which can provide answers to questions such as: “How should monetary policymakers return their instruments to more normal levels?” and “Should QE be part of the regular monetary policy toolkit?”
Since QE began, banks have had a lot more liquidity to make payments. But some have argued (in a nutshell) that banks are reliant on this extra liquidity to make their CHAPS payments and it would be difficult to remove it from the system. Our analysis shows that banks don’t need a great deal of liquidity to make their payments simply because they recycle such a high proportion of them. In practical terms, banks do not rely on high reserves balances to make their CHAPS payments so unwinding QE shouldn’t have any impact on banks’ ability to do just that. We also briefly go over the potential reasons for this such as the CHAPS throughput rules, the Liquidity Savings Mechanism, and the tiered structure of CHAPS.
When the ECB announced an extension of its asset purchase programme on December 3 2015, the euro appreciated, bond yields rose and equity prices fell. This does not mean that the extension tightened monetary policy, but merely that it was smaller than what markets had priced in. In order to calculate the full impact of the programme on asset prices, we need to measure both the anticipation effect and announcement effect and add the two up. Our analysis suggests that the announcement effect undid about half of the anticipation effect, and so the extension of asset purchases still pushed down yields, supported equity valuations and depreciated the euro. However, compared to the initial programme, its impact on asset prices was smaller. Continue reading “Too eagerly anticipated: The impact of the extension of ECB QE on asset prices”→