Quantitative Easing at the Fed and the Bank of Japan

Next Thursday March 25 the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on how the Fed should exit from its quantitative easing. This past week I was in Japan discussing the Japanese experience with QE with traders and experts in the financial sector and in the Bank of Japan. A simple graphical comparison between QE at the Fed and at the BOJ puts the exit strategy in a useful perspective.

The two graphs show the monetary base—currency plus bank reserves—in the United States and Japan as reported by the Fed and the Bank of Japan. (The BOJ reports units of 100 million yen; thus the monetary base in Japan is now slightly below 1,000,000 units of 100 million yen or 100 trillion yen).

The big bulges in the monetary base are measures of quantitative easing because the monetary base would have continued to grow at relatively steady pace without QE. Japan’s experience with QE was from 2001 to 2006; during those years the monetary base increased from about 65 trillion yen to 110 trillion yen, or by about 70 percent. While QE lasted for a long time it ended very quickly, and the quick exit seemed to go smoothly without volatility in the markets. Note that the post 2008 quantitative easing in Japan is very small compared to 2001-2006; thus Japan does not have an exit problem right now though it is still struggling with a deflation problem and will likely continue with its QE. Unlike the Fed, the BOJ did not think a big quantitative easing was appropriate in the recent crisis.

Moreover, the Fed’s recent QE is quite different from the BOJ’s QE in 2001-2006:

First, the monetary base in the United States increased by twice as much in percentage terms (140 percent) compared with Japan.

Second, QE came on much quicker in the United States, with most of the increase in the base concentrated in the last few months of 2008, though increases have continued since then.

Third, the Fed entered into QE when the interest rate target was 2 percent, while the BOJ started QE when the interest rate was already essentially zero at 0.1 percent.

Fourth, the Fed’s quantitative easing has largely been caused by the need to finance its purchase of mortgage backed securities, bailouts of AIG and Bear Stearns and other loans and securities purchases.

Fifth, and most important for the exit strategy issue: the BOJ exited from QE much more quickly than the Fed is now signaling its exit will be. Japan’s experience suggests that a quicker exit for the Fed might be considered.

About John B. Taylor 117 Articles

Affiliation: Stanford University

John B. Taylor is the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University and the Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He formerly served as the director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, where he is now a senior fellow, and he was founding director of Stanford's Introductory Economics Center.

Taylor’s academic fields of expertise are macroeconomics, monetary economics, and international economics. He is known for his research on the foundations of modern monetary theory and policy, which has been applied by central banks and financial market analysts around the world. He has an active interest in public policy. Taylor is currently a member of the California Governor's Council of Economic Advisors, where he also previously served from 1996 to 1998. In the past, he served as senior economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1976 to 1977, as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1989 to 1991. He was also a member of the Congressional Budget Office's Panel of Economic Advisers from 1995 to 2001.

For four years from 2001 to 2005, Taylor served as Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs where he was responsible for U.S. policies in international finance, which includes currency markets, trade in financial services, foreign investment, international debt and development, and oversight of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He was also responsible for coordinating financial policy with the G-7 countries, was chair of the working party on international macroeconomics at the OECD, and was a member of the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. His book Global Financial Warriors: The Untold Story of International Finance in the Post-9/11 World chronicles his years as head of the international division at Treasury.

Taylor was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Award for his overall leadership in international finance at the U.S. Treasury. He was also awarded the Treasury Distinguished Service Award for designing and implementing the currency reforms in Iraq, and the Medal of the Republic of Uruguay for his work in resolving the 2002 financial crisis. In 2005, he was awarded the George P. Shultz Distinguished Public Service Award. Taylor has also won many teaching awards; he was awarded the Hoagland Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching and the Rhodes Prize for his high teaching ratings in Stanford's introductory economics course. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his research, and he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society; he formerly served as vice president of the American Economic Association.

Before joining the Stanford faculty in 1984, Taylor held positions as professor of economics at Princeton University and Columbia University. Taylor received a B.A. in economics summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1968 and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 1973.

Visit: John Taylor's Page, Blog

1 Comment on Quantitative Easing at the Fed and the Bank of Japan

  1. Japan is not struggling with deflation, it has drastically INflated all those years. That doesn’t automatically mean people pick up that money to buy things they feel they don’t need or can’t afford! This “fear of deflation” is just a ruse by central banks to keep inflating the money supply. Deflation does not keep people from spending – they always spend what’s necessary. And money NOT “spent” is then saved which means it is credit to someone who invests it for capital goods etc. thus it is again being spent, only not for consumption. Money never lies completely idle to any extent whether there’s inflation, deflation, stability or a solar eclipse. For deflation to seriously happen, not only the current extreme credit expansion by the central banks and states (through “quantitative easing”, stimulus packages, monetising and then spending national debt etc.) but also the money that was released into the economy PRIOR to the collapse would have to be “mopped up” again. This is nowhere to be seen nor would it be technically possible (confiscation aside) so we will rather see inflation than deflation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*