Was hat QE gebracht?

Der Economist stellt die entscheidende Frage: Quantitative easing cost hundreds of billions. Was it worth it? – Tja, vor allem, wenn man die Nebenwirkungen bedenkt!

Was meint der Economist?

  • In the decade and a half since the global financial crisis, rich-world central banks have bought trillions of dollars’ worth of bonds in an attempt to stimulate their economies. Now the bill is coming due. At the last count America’s Federal Reserve had a paper loss of $911bn on its $8.2trn securities portfolio. On July 25th the Bank of England said that, under reasonable assumptions, the Treasury will have to transfer about £275bn ($353bn) between 2023 and 2033 to cover the bank’s cash outflows. On July 28th the Bank of Japan surprised markets by lifting its cap on long-term bond yields, from 0.5% to 1%. For every 0.25-percentage-point rise in the yields of Japanese bonds across all maturities, we calculate, the central bank’s vast bondholdings will fall in value by about $58bn—an amount worth 1.5% of Japanese gdp.“ – bto: Na und, mag man da meinen. Es sind doch nur Papierverluste.
  • Central banks can create money and so cannot go bust. But letting them bleed cash is inflationary unless taxpayers cover the losses. The rising costs of fulfilling this obligation make it important to determine whether quantitative easing (qe) has been worth the expense—and whether such mass bond-buying should be used the next time the economy needs stimulus.“ – bto: Es hat den Schuldenmegazyklus verlängert. Alles gut also. Oder?
  • The immediate problem is that as central banks have raised interest rates to fight inflation, they have had to pay out more on those reserves. The coupon payments they receive on the bonds, however, have remained fixed. Selling the bonds to stop the outflow would not help, because they would fetch much less than they cost. Paper losses would crystallise.“ – bto: Na gut, die Notenbanken machen Verluste.
  • Instead policymakers are doing their best to gloss over the issue. The European Central Bank announced on July 28th that it would stop paying interest on the minimum cash balances banks are required to hold for financial-stability reasons, in effect levying a hidden tax on the banking system.(…) Unlike the Bank of England, the Fed will not receive infusions from the government. Instead, when the Fed starts making profits again, it will pocket them rather than sending them to the Treasury. Payments will resume only after the central bank has recouped the cash it is currently losing. So far, the Fed owes itself about $80bn.“ – bto: Aber, wenn die QE-Maßnahmen erfolgreich waren, dann war es das doch wert. Oder?
  • Central banks kept buying bonds long after it was necessary: the Fed bought its last Treasury in March 2022, when inflation was already 8.5%. Not long after, policymakers realised that they had applied too much stimulus and raised rates sharply. That central banks lost money as inflation persisted is just another reason they came to look foolish.“ – bto. Das stimmt.

Was lernen wir daraus?

  • The first rule they should follow is not to hold back during a financial crisis. (…) Hoovering up assets when markets panic is more likely to produce profits than losses, but even if such interventions lose money, they are worthwhile. Even hundreds of billions of dollars would be a price worth paying to avoid a 1930s-style financial cataclysm after which unemployment soars, which today would cause damage costing tens of trillions of dollars.“ – bto: Wobei natürlich die Risikoneigung dann immer mehr zunimmt.
  • Aber eben nur für eine bestimmte Zeit. Denn: „The median estimate calculated in one literature review is that buying bonds worth 10% of gdp reduces ten-year government-bond yields by a mere half a percentage point. Moreover, central banks themselves are the source of many of these estimates, and have an incentive to overstate the impact…“ – bto: Haha. Das haben sie wohl!
  • The second rule, therefore, should be to resort to qe only when all other options have been genuinely exhausted. Even after interest rates fall to zero and cannot be cut further, central banks can be clear about their intention to keep interest rates low for a long time—a promise which may be reinforced by qe, but is hardly dependent on it. Governments can cut taxes or raise spending as a stimulus(…) Bond-buying should stay in the emergency arsenal, just in case. But in future central banks should be less trigger-happy.“ – bto: Das ändert nichts daran, dass uns die Folgen noch länger beschäftigen werden.

economist.com (Anmeldung erforderlich): „Quantitative easing cost hundreds of billions. Was it worth it?“, 31. Juli 2023