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

Author

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  • Arvind Krishnamurthy

    (Northwestern University)

  • Annette Vissing-Jorgensen

    (Northwestern University)

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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Suggested Citation

  • Arvind Krishnamurthy & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2011. "The Effects of Quantitative Easing on Interest Rates: Channels and Implications for Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(2 (Fall)), pages 215-287.
  • Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:42:y:2011:i:2011-02:p:215-287
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zhiguo He & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2013. "Intermediary Asset Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 732-770, April.
    2. 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.
    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. Eric T. Swanson, 2011. "Let's Twist Again: A High-Frequency Event-study Analysis of Operation Twist and Its Implications for QE2," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(1 (Spring), pages 151-207.
    5. Xavier Gabaix & Arvind Krishnamurthy & Olivier Vigneron, 2007. "Limits of Arbitrage: Theory and Evidence from the Mortgage‐Backed Securities Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(2), pages 557-595, April.
    6. 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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    More about this item

    Keywords

    interest rates; quantitative easing; Federal Reserve; Treasury; policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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