The Effects of Quantitative Easing on Interest Rates: Channels and Implications for Policy
We evaluate the effect of the Federal Reserve's purchase of long-term Treasuries and other long-term bonds ("QE1" in 2008-2009 and "QE2" in 2010-2011) on interest rates. Using an event-study methodology we reach two main conclusions. First, it is inappropriate to focus only on Treasury rates as a policy target because QE works through several channels that affect particular assets differently. We find evidence for a signaling channel, a unique demand for long-term safe assets, and an inflation channel for both QE1 and QE2, and an MBS pre-payment channel and a corporate bond default risk channel for QE1. Second, effects on particular assets depend critically on which assets are purchased. The event-study suggests that (a) mortgage-backed securities purchases in QE1 were crucial for lowering mortgage-backed security yields as well as corporate credit risk and thus corporate yields for QE1, and (b) Treasuries-only purchases in QE2 had a disproportionate effect on Treasuries and Agencies relative to mortgage-backed securities and corporates, with yields on the latter falling primarily through the market's anticipation of lower future federal funds rates.
We thank Jack Bao, Olivier Blanchard, Greg Duffee, Charlie Evans, Ester Faia, Simon Gilchrist, Robin Greenwood, Monika Piazzesi, David Romer, Thomas Philippon, Tsutomu Watanabe, Justin Wolfers, and participants at seminars and conferences at Brookings, Chicago Fed, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, ECB, San Francisco Fed, Princeton University, Northwestern University, CEMFI, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Society for Economic Dynamics, NBER Summer Institute, the NAPA Conference on Financial Markets Research, and the European Finance Association for their suggestions. We thank Kevin Crotty and Juan Mendez for research assistance. This paper was prepared for the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity Fall 2011 issue. We have received an honorarium for the presentation of the paper at Brookings. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Annette Vissing-Jorgensen serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Norwegian Finance Initiative, and as such receives compensation from Norges Bank (the central bank of Norway).
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity The Effects of Quantitative Easing on Interest Rates: Channels and Implications for Policy Fall 2011, Annette Vissing-Jorgensen and Arvind Krishnamurthy citation courtesy of