NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Qualitative Easing: How it Works and Why it Matters

Roger E.A. Farmer

NBER Working Paper No. 18421
Issued in September 2012
NBER Program(s):   EFG

This paper is about the effectiveness of qualitative easing; a government policy that is designed to mitigate risk through central bank purchases of privately held risky assets and their replacement by government debt, with a return that is guaranteed by the taxpayer. Policies of this kind have recently been carried out by national central banks, backed by implicit guarantees from national treasuries. I construct a general equilibrium model where agents have rational expectations and there is a complete set of financial securities, but where agents are unable to participate in financial markets that open before they are born. I show that a change in the asset composition of the central bank's balance sheet will change equilibrium asset prices. Further, I prove that a policy in which the central bank stabilizes fluctuations in the stock market is Pareto improving and is costless to implement.

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This paper was revised on December 26, 2012

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18421

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