May 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

Putting the world's coronavirus-driven monetary policy into perspective

Reproduced from BofA Global Research; Table: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from BofA Global Research; Table: Axios Visuals

"The monetary policy response to COVID-19 has been massive," Bank of America Global Research analysts write in a recent note to clients.

What's happening: Led by the Federal Reserve, which has added $2.5 trillion to its balance sheet in less than two months, all of the world's major central banks have taken extreme policy action.

  • The Bank of Japan has doubled its ETF purchase target limit and increased its purchases of commercial paper and corporate bonds.
  • The Bank of England has restarted quantitative easing and is expected to double its balance sheet holdings by year-end.
  • The Bank of Canada has launched QE for the first time.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia has joined the BoJ in attempting yield curve control.

The big picture: BofA analysts expect total holdings among the "big six" central banks to increase from 46% of GDP at the end of 2019 to around 78% by the end of 2020.

  • In 2007, the total was just 16% of GDP.

What's next: Inflation and currency risk in the near term are not major worries, BofA argues, as developed markets could actually see their currencies rise in value as more emerging market central banks start their own forays into quantitative easing.

  • "We think the key risks to [developed markets] are 'Japanification' — sustained zero or negative policy rates, very flat yield curves and policy impotence — and distortions from the growing prominence of central banks in various markets."

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