Working Papers

2014-18 | June 2016

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Transmission of Quantitative Easing: The Role of Central Bank Reserves

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We argue that the issuance of central bank reserves per se can matter for the effect of central bank large-scale asset purchases—commonly known as quantitative easing—on long-term interest rates. This effect is independent of the assets purchased, and runs through a reserve-induced portfolio balance channel. For evidence we analyze the reaction of Swiss long-term government bond yields to announcements by the Swiss National Bank to expand central bank reserves without acquiring any long-lived securities. We find that declines in long-term yields following the announcements mainly reflected reduced term premiums suggestive of reserve-induced portfolio balance effects.

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