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Analyzing Federal Reserve asset purchases: From whom does the Fed buy?

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  • Carpenter, Seth
  • Demiralp, Selva
  • Ihrig, Jane
  • Klee, Elizabeth

Abstract

Asset purchases have become an important monetary policy tool of the Federal Reserve in recent years. To date, most studies of the Federal Reserve’s asset purchases have tried to measure the interest rate effects of the purchases, and several provide evidence that these purchases do have important effects on longer-term market interest rates. The theory of how asset purchases work, however, is less well developed. Some of the empirical studies point to “preferred habitat” models in which investors do not have the same objectives, and therefore prefer to hold different types and maturities of securities. To study this more closely, we exploit Flow of Funds data to assess the types of investors that are selling to the Federal Reserve and their portfolio adjustment after these sales, which could provide a view to the plausibility of preferred habitat models and the transmission of unconventional monetary policy across asset markets. We find that the Federal Reserve is ultimately buying from only a handful of investor types, primarily households (which includes hedge funds), with a different reaction to changes in Federal Reserve holdings of longer-term versus shorter-term assets. Although not evident for all investors, the key participants are shown to rebalance their portfolios toward more risky assets during this period. These results can be interpreted as supporting, at least in part, the preferred habit theory and the view that the monetary policy transmission is working across asset markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Carpenter, Seth & Demiralp, Selva & Ihrig, Jane & Klee, Elizabeth, 2015. "Analyzing Federal Reserve asset purchases: From whom does the Fed buy?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 230-244.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:52:y:2015:i:c:p:230-244
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2014.04.029
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dimitri Vayanos & Jean‐Luc Vila, 2021. "A Preferred‐Habitat Model of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(1), pages 77-112, January.
    2. 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.
    3. D’Amico, Stefania & King, Thomas B., 2013. "Flow and stock effects of large-scale treasury purchases: Evidence on the importance of local supply," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 425-448.
    4. Han Chen & Vasco Cúrdia & Andrea Ferrero, 2012. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Large‐scale Asset Purchase Programmes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(564), pages 289-315, November.
    5. George Kapetanios & Haroon Mumtaz & Ibrahim Stevens & Konstantinos Theodoridis, 2012. "Assessing the Economy‐wide Effects of Quantitative Easing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(564), pages 316-347, November.
    6. Jonathan H. Wright, 2012. "What does Monetary Policy do to Long‐term Interest Rates at the Zero Lower Bound?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(564), pages 447-466, November.
    7. Joseph Gagnon & Matthew Raskin & Julie Remache & Brian Sack, 2011. "The Financial Market Effects of the Federal Reserve's Large-Scale Asset Purchases," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 7(1), pages 3-43, March.
    8. Jane Ihrig & Elizabeth Klee & Canlin Li & Min Wei & Joe Kachovec, 2018. "Expectations about the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet and the Term Structure of Interest Rates," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 14(2), pages 341-391, March.
    9. 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. 43(2 (Fall)), pages 215-287.
    10. Valery Polkovnichenko, 2005. "Household Portfolio Diversification: A Case for Rank-Dependent Preferences," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(4), pages 1467-1502.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unconventional monetary policy; Large-scale asset purchases; Portfolio reallocation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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