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New Perspectives on Quantitative Easing and Central Bank Capital Policies
IMF
2024.05.22
Central banks have come under increasing criticism for large balance sheet losses associated with quantitative easing (QE), and some observers have also argued that QE helped fuel the post-COVID-19 inflation boom. In this paper, we reconsider the conditions under which QE may be warranted considering the recent high inflation experience. We emphasize that the merits of QE should be evaluated based on the macroeconomic stimulus it provides and its effects on the consolidated fiscal position, and not simply on central bank profits or losses. Using an open economy DSGE model with segmented asset markets, we show how QE can provide a sizeable boost to output and inflation in a deep recession and improve the consolidated fiscal position―even if the central bank experiences considerable losses. However, the commitment-based features of QE and the possibility that upside inflation risks are bigger than recognized pre-pandemic call for more caution in using QE closer to full employment. We then consider how central banks might modify their policies for allocating profits to the government in light of large-scale losses. In short, we suggest that a more forward-looking and risk-based approach may be desirable in helping protect central bank financial autonomy and ultimately independence.