Quantifying the Costs and Benefits of Quantitative Easing
We conduct a systematic analysis of the costs and benefits of large-scale securities purchases, using the Federal Reserve’s QE4 program as a concrete example. This program was initiated at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and continued for two years, leading to a doubling of the Fed’s securities holdings to about $8.5 trillion as of March 2022. QE4 was initially aimed at mitigating strains in markets for Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities but was subsequently aimed more broadly at supporting market functioning and providing monetary stimulus. Nonetheless, QE4 did not have any notable benefits in reducing term premiums. Moreover, since the securities purchases were financed by expanding the Fed’s short-term liabilities, QE4 amplified the interest rate risk associated with the publicly-held debt of the consolidated federal government. Our simulation analysis indicates that QE4 is likely to reduce the Federal Reserve’s remittances to the U.S. Treasury by about $760 billion over the next ten years.