Central banks can implement unconventional monetary policy measures to provide additional easing when policy interest rates come close to their lower limit. To date, the international experience with tools such as quantitative easing and negative interest rates has been largely positive. Central banks may also use several such measures simultaneously, with often mutually reinforcing effects. Yet, unconventional tools are also subject to potential limits, and the costs associated with these measures could rise with extensive and prolonged use.
This paper summarizes the international evidence on the performance of quantitative easing (QE) as a monetary policy tool when conventional policy rates are constrained by the effective lower bound (ELB). A large body of evidence suggests that expanding the central bank’s balance sheet through large-scale asset purchases can provide effective stimulus under the ELB.
Prices of commodities, including metals, energy and agricultural products, rose markedly over the 2009–2010 period. Some observers have attributed a significant part of this increase in commodity prices to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchase (LSAP) programs.
The Latin American debt crises in the 1980s and the Asian crisis in the late 1990s both provided impetus for reforming the framework for restructuring sovereign debt. In the late 1980s, the Brady plan established the importance of substantive debt relief in addressing some crises.
Following the recent financial crisis, major central banks have introduced several types of unconventional monetary policy measures, including liquidity and credit facilities, asset purchases and forward guidance. To date, these measures appear to have been successful. They restored market functioning, facilitated the transmission of monetary policy and supported economic activity. They have potential costs, however, including challenges related to the greatly expanded balance sheets of central banks and the eventual exit from these measures, as well as the vulnerabilities that can arise from prolonged monetary accommodation.