Unconventional Monetary Policy in Theory and in Practice
40 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2012
Date Written: September 14, 2011
In this paper, after discussing the theoretical underpinnings of unconventional monetary policy measures, we review the existing empirical evidence on their effectiveness, focusing on those adopted by the European Central Bank and by the Federal Reserve. These measures operate in two ways: through the signalling channel and through the portfolio-balance channel. In the former, the central bank can use communication to steer interest rates and to restore confidence in the financial markets; the latter hinges on the hypothesis of imperfect substitutability of assets and liabilities in the balance sheet of the private sector and postulates that the central bank’s asset purchases and liquidity provision lower financial yields and improve funding conditions. The review of the empirical literature suggests that the unconventional measures were effective and that their impact on the economy was sizeable. However, a very large degree of uncertainty surrounds the precise quantification of these effects.
Keywords: Central bank, unconventional monetary policy, financial crisis, signalling channel, portfolio balance channel
JEL Classification: E52, E58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation