IMF Economic Review

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 71–112 | Cite as

QE in the Future: The Central Bank’s Balance Sheet in a Fiscal Crisis

  • Ricardo ReisEmail author


Analyses of quantitative easing (QE) typically focus on the recent past studying the policy’s effectiveness during a financial crisis when nominal interest rates are zero. This paper examines instead the usefulness of QE in a future fiscal crisis, modeled as a situation where the fiscal outlook is inconsistent with both stable inflation and no sovereign default. The crisis can lower welfare through two channels, the first via aggregate demand and nominal rigidities, and the second via contractions in credit and disruption in financial markets. Managing the size and composition of the central bank’s balance sheet can interfere with each of these channels, stabilizing inflation and economic activity. The power of QE comes from interest-paying reserves being a special public liability, neither substitutable by currency nor by government debt.


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Copyright information

© International Monetary Fund 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

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