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The Effects of Quantitative Easing on Interest Rates: Channels and Implications for Policy

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  • Arvind Krishnamurthy
  • Annette Vissing-Jorgensen
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    Abstract

    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.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17555.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2011
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    Publication status: published as 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
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17555

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    1. Eric T. Swanson, 2011. "Let’s twist again: a high-frequency event-study analysis of operation twist and its implications for QE2," Working Paper Series 2011-08, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Olivier Vigneron, & Xavier Gabaix & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2004. "Limits of Arbitrage: Theory and Evidence from the Mortgage-Backed Securities Market," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 430, Econometric Society.
    3. Andreas Fuster & Paul S. Willen, 2010. "$1.25 Trillion is still real money : some facts about the effects of the Federal Reserve’s mortgage market investments," Public Policy Discussion Paper 10-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    4. Matthias Fleckenstein & Francis A. Longstaff & Hanno Lustig, 2010. "Why Does the Treasury Issue Tips? The Tips–Treasury Bond Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 16358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jonathan H. Wright, 2011. "What does Monetary Policy do to Long-Term Interest Rates at the Zero Lower Bound?," NBER Working Papers 17154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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