Quantitive Easing

What Is Quantitive Easing Economics?

6 min read

What is Quantitive Easing? When we first hear quantitative easing, it sounds like a physics term unrelated to finance. Fortunately, it is not something Albert Einstein thought of but a relatively recent government policy to stimulate the economy. Our post on Quantitative Easing will explain this policy and its impact on the economy and the stock market. What We Will Cover Today: What is QE? Examples over the years and how markets were affected. Is QE good or bad?

What Is Quantitive Easing?

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Website

What is Quantitive Easing? Quantitative Easing is a monetary policy used by Central Banks (the Federal Reserve in the US) worldwide to inject money into the economy. Here are the steps in this unconventional process:

1. Central Banks (CB) purchase bonds from financial institutions or fixed assets for the long term.

First, where is this money coming from? The CB creates these funds on its balance sheet. In other words, they are ‘’printing money”. When they purchase bonds or other assets from financial institutions, the funds are transferred from the CB to the financial institution (i.e., Wells Fargo). 

2. This immediately injects money in the form of credit into the economy

In this example, Wells Fargo now has more money in the form of credit to loan to their clients (individuals or businesses). Their clients will take out loans and reinvest the funds into the economy. Examples of investments can be property, stocks, renovations, etc. Wells Fargo can also use these funds to purchase other available assets, such as stocks.

3. Long-term interest rates decrease

Why do the rates decrease? Would you rather take a loan at 4 or 5% interest? Banks offer credit at a lower interest rate to motivate clients to take out loans. 

4. The price of bonds increases, and their yields decrease

As the bond price increases due to the heavy CB purchases, its yield (return) decreases. Bonds become a less attractive investment for other investors.

5. Economy growth

Economic growth happens in various ways. First, individuals and businesses who borrowed reinject the money into the economy, as outlined in step 2. Additionally, investments for higher-return assets, such as stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, increase, which induces the stock market to post higher gains.

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Examples Over the Years and How Markets Were Affected

What is Quantitive Easing? QE is a powerful tool to use during periods of high uncertainty, during a financial crash, and to avoid further market panic. Here are some examples of where this tool was used. In all cases, short-term interest rates were already close to zero. 

Japan (2001-2006)

The first use of QE was observed in Japan. Economic growth stagnated for over a decade, and deflation became serious. Japanese banks benefited from a sevenfold increase in their liquidity, from ¥5 trillion to ¥35 trillion, equivalent to US$300 billion. Economic growth slowly returned until the next recession happened…

The Great Recession (2007-2009)

Next, a similar policy was used in the US, the UK, and the Eurozone during this great recession. 

The US Federal Reserve underwent three rounds of QE in November 2008, November 2010, and September 2012. Each round resulted in funds allocated monthly to buy certain types of assets. For example, they bought mortgage-backed securities, bank debt, and treasury securities. The total amount of assets purchased amounted to $4.5 trillion.

The Bank of England underwent a similar process over multiple rounds but to a lesser extent. July 2012 was the last round of purchases, bringing the total to £375 billion, equivalent to approximately US$570 billion.

BREXIT BONUS: Brexit created uncertainty in Britain in 2016. An additional round of QE of £70 billion was injected into the economy.

COVID (2020 – TBD)

To conclude this section, similar responses were made to fight the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The governments mentioned above injected billions into the economy via Quantitative Easing. 

By mid-summer 2020, the US Federal Reserve added US $2 trillion in purchases.

By November 2020, the Bank of England had accumulated another £895 billion in purchases.

In March 2020, the European Central Bank revealed €750 billion in funds allocated to fight the pandemic.

The graph below shows the total assets held by the US Federal Reserve, with severe spikes during the 2007-2009 crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 
What is Quantitive Easing

How Were the Markets Affected?

As we know, markets have rebounded since those Quantitative Easing measures. After the Great Depression, major indexes regained their momentum for years. After that horrific first half of March 2020, markets have posted all-time highs. Were these recoveries a direct effect of QE measures?

It is hard to tell, and our data is inconclusive and generated mixed. The next section will elaborate on QE’s good and bad. Is QE good or bad? To conclude this article, we would like to weigh in on the effects of QE.

1. Pros of Quantitive Easing

  • Lower interest rates and more access to funds for borrowers.
  • Stock markets increase, and knowledgeable investors can benefit.
  • Economic growth increases, and there is more money in the economy.

2. Cons of Quantitive Easing

  • Not everyone can borrow funds.
  • Non-investors do not benefit. Once again, the wealthy benefit much more. Those most in need aren’t the ones who benefit the most.
  • Record stock prices do not mean that the economy is doing well. Unemployment rates were at very high levels during the pandemic. Simultaneously, the economy was doing better by the month.
  • Inflation affects some more than others.

To put it in perspective, here’s a real-life example: Alex received a fat five-digit bonus because his company made billions in profit during the pandemic.

Mary got a $1 hourly raise on her pay, while inflation was 6% in 2021. Her money is worth less than in 2020.

Final Thoughts: Quantitive Easing

What is Quantitive Easing? Quantitative Easing measures seem to stimulate the economy but create other issues. From an investor’s point of view, stock market growth coincides with QE rounds. Moreover, major governments have opted for this measure over the last decade and may continue to do so during upcoming periods of uncertainty.

If you want to learn more about profiting from the stock market, head to our free library of educational courses. We have something for everyone, including trading options for those with small accounts.

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