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The Effects of Quantitative Easing on Long-term Interest Rates

  • Annette Vissing-Jorgensen

    (Kellogg School of Management, Northweste)

  • Arvind Krishnamurthy

    (Northwestern University)

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    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 that exploits both daily and intra-day data, we find a large and significant drop in nominal interest rates on long-term safe assets (Treasuries, Agency bonds, and highly-rated corporate bonds). This occurs mainly because there is a unique clientele for long-term safe nominal assets, and the Fed purchases reduce the supply of such assets and hence increase the equilibrium safety-premium. We find only small effects on nominal (default-adjusted) interest rates on less safe assets such as Baa corporate rates. The impact of quantitative easing on MBS rates is large when QE involves MBS purchases, but not when it involves Treasury purchases, indicating that a second main channel for QE is to affect the equilibrium price of mortgage-specific risk. Evidence from inflation swap rates and TIPS show that expected inflation increased due to both QE1 and QE2, implying that reductions in real rates were larger than reductions in nominal rates. Our analysis implies that (a) it is inappropriate to focus only on Treasury rates as a policy target because QE works through several channels that affect particular assets differently, and (b) effects on particular assets depend critically on which assets are purchased.

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    File URL: https://www.economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2011/paper_1447.pdf
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    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 1447.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:1447
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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," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(1 (Spring), pages 151-207.
    2. 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, 04.
    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.
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