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The Effectiveness of Alternative Monetary Policy Tools in a Zero Lower Bound Environment

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  • James D. Hamilton
  • Jing Cynthia Wu

Abstract

This paper reviews alternative options for monetary policy when the short-term interest rate is at the zero lower bound and develops new empirical estimates of the effects of the maturity structure of publicly held debt on the term structure of interest rates. We use a model of risk-averse arbitrageurs to develop measures of how the maturity structure of debt held by the public might affect the pricing of level, slope and curvature term-structure risk. We find these Treasury factors historically were quite helpful for predicting both yields and excess returns over 1990-2007. The historical correlations are consistent with the claim that if in December of 2006, the Fed were to have sold off all its Treasury holdings of less than one-year maturity (about $400 billion) and use the proceeds to retire Treasury debt from the long end, this might have resulted in a 14-basis-point drop in the 10-year rate and an 11-basis-point increase in the 6-month rate. We also develop a description of how the dynamic behavior of the term structure of interest rates changed after hitting the zero lower bound in 2009. Our estimates imply that at the zero lower bound, such a maturity swap would have the same effects as buying $400 billion in long-term maturities outright with newly created reserves, and could reduce the 10-year rate by 13 basis points without raising short-term yields.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16956.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16956

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  1. John B. Taylor & John C. Williams, 2009. "A black swan in the money market," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jan.
  2. Baumeister, Christiane & Benati, Luca, 2010. "Unconventional monetary policy and the great recession - Estimating the impact of a compression in the yield spread at the zero lower bound," Working Paper Series 1258, European Central Bank.
  3. Joseph Gagnon & Matthew Raskin & Julie Remache & Brian Sack, 2011. "Large-scale asset purchases by the Federal Reserve: did they work?," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 41-59.
  4. Jens H. E. Christensen & Jose A. Lopez & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2009. "Do central bank liquidity facilities affect interbank lending rates?," Working Paper Series 2009-13, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  5. Tobias Adrian & Karin Kimbrough & Dina Marchioni, 2010. "The Federal Reserve's Commercial Paper Funding Facility," Staff Reports 423, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. Hamilton, James D. & Wu, Jing Cynthia, 2012. "Identification and estimation of Gaussian affine term structure models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 168(2), pages 315-331.
  7. Eric T. Swanson, 2011. "Let's Twist Again: A High-Frequency Event-Study Analysis of Operation Twist and Its Implications for QE2," 2011 Meeting Papers 982, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Taeyoung Doh, 2010. "The efficacy of large-scale asset purchases at the zero lower bound," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 5-34.
  9. Refet S. Gürkaynak & Brian Sack & Jonathan H. Wright, 2006. "The U.S. Treasury yield curve: 1961 to the present," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-28, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. James D. Hamilton & Jing Cynthia Wu, 2011. "Testable Implications of Affine Term Structure Models," NBER Working Papers 16931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Michael Woodford, 2003. "The Zero Bound on Interest Rates and Optimal Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 139-235.
  12. John Kitchen & Menzie Chinn, 2011. "Financing US Debt: Is There Enough Money in the World – and at What Cost?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(3), pages 373-413, December.
  13. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart & Brian P. Sack, 2004. "Monetary policy alternatives at the zero bound: an empirical assessment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Wallace, Neil, 1981. "A Modigliani-Miller Theorem for Open-Market Operations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 267-74, June.
  15. James McAndrews & Asani Sarkar & Zhenyu Wang, 2008. "The effect of the Term Auction Facility on the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate," Staff Reports 335, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  16. Greg Duffee, 2011. "Forecasting with the term structure: The role of no-arbitrage restrictions," Economics Working Paper Archive 576, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
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  1. Vice Chair Janet L. Yellen: Perspectives on Monetary Policy
    by Guest Author in The Big Picture on 2012-06-07 11:05:32
  2. Full text: Janet Yellen – Perspectives on Monetary Policy
    by Guest Author in Credit Writedowns on 2012-06-07 13:10:28
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