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Effects of Unconventional Monetary Policy on Financial Institutions

  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich

Monetary policy affects the real economy in part through its effects on financial institutions. High frequency event studies show the introduction of unconventional monetary policy in the winter of 2008-09 had a strong, beneficial impact on banks and especially on life insurance companies. I interpret the positive effects on life insurers as expansionary policy recapitalizing the sector by raising the value of legacy assets. Expansionary policy had small positive or neutral effects on banks and life insurers through 2013. The interaction of low nominal interest rates and administrative costs forced money market funds to waive fees, producing a possible incentive to reach for yield to reduce waivers. I show money market funds with higher costs reached for higher returns in 2009-11, but not thereafter. Some private defined benefit pension funds increased their risk taking beginning in 2009, but again such behavior largely dissipated by 2012. In sum, unconventional monetary policy helped to stabilize some sectors and provoked modest additional risk taking in others. I do not find evidence that the riskiness of the financial institutions studied fomented a tradeoff between expansionary policy and financial stability at the end of 2013.

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Paper provided by Harvard University OpenScholar in its series Working Paper with number 156866.

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Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:156866
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  1. Samuel Hanson & Jeremy C. Stein, 2012. "Monetary policy and long-term real rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  3. Jeremy C. Stein & Anil K. Kashyap, 2000. "What Do a Million Observations on Banks Say about the Transmission of Monetary Policy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 407-428, June.
  4. Susan Christoffersen & David K. Musto, 1999. "Demand Curves and the Pricing of Money Management," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-31, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
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  6. Ben Bernanke, 1990. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transnission," NBER Working Papers 3487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Merton, Robert C., 1973. "On the pricing of corporate debt: the risk structure of interest rates," Working papers 684-73., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  8. Masazumi Hattori & Andreas Schrimpf & Vladyslav Sushko, 2013. "The response of tail risk perceptions to unconventional monetary policy," BIS Working Papers 425, Bank for International Settlements.
  9. Itamar Drechsler & Alexi Savov & Philipp Schnabl, 2014. "A Model of Monetary Policy and Risk Premia," NBER Working Papers 20141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jonathan H. Wright, 2012. "What does Monetary Policy do to Longā€term Interest Rates at the Zero Lower Bound?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(564), pages F447-F466, November.
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