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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Central banks already have started priming their collective money printers and in the coming months are poised to crank them up to 11, buying up more bonds and delivering more liquidity to markets.

Why it matters: The recent rally in equities now has more backing from central banks.

  • This could be especially beneficial in the U.S. where companies have thrived on low rates and easy money while trimming their bottom lines through layoffs.
  • And while the possibility of lockdown measures returning could again wreak havoc on real and local economies around the globe, as COVID-19 cases increase and hospital beds fill up, stocks could race to new highs.

What's happening: On Thursday, the Bank of England said it would buy an additional $197 billion of U.K. government debt, following the Reserve Bank of Australia's announcement that it would engage in QE for the first time, buying $73 billion in government bonds.

Back home: Fed chair Jerome Powell made clear at November's FOMC press conference last week that the Fed is prepared to join the party.

  • "We’re strongly committed to using these powerful tools that we have to support the economy during this difficult time for as long as needed and no one should have any doubt about that,” Powell said.

By the numbers: As of October, the Fed, ECB, Bank of Japan and People's Bank of China held $26.8 trillion on their collective balance sheets, having increased their bond-buying programs by 38.5% over last year, per Yardeni Research.

  • The Fed, ECB and BOJ have increased their collective programs by 50%.

Between the lines: September marked the 20th straight month of interest rate cuts for central banks in developing countries.

  • At least 18 emerging market central banks have set up and carried out asset-purchase programs of some kind, according to the IMF, with many delivering outright quantitative easing. (The only real difference being that some central banks are buying their country's government bonds even before cutting interest rates to 0%.)

Yes, but: Some argue, monetary policy is reaching the limits of its effectiveness.

  • "Markets aren’t facing liquidity issues," WSJ's Jon Sindreu writes. "When a car isn’t short on fuel, adding more gas to the tank doesn’t make it run faster."
  • "Buying more bonds is mostly meaningless because it doesn’t tell the market anything it doesn’t know."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

3 hours ago - Health

Meta removes over 600 accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China

Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta announced Wednesday it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the U.S. was pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

Why it matters: Though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.