Quantitative tightening (QT) (or quantitative hardening) is a contractionary monetary policy applied by a central bank to decrease the amount of liquidity within the economy. The policy is the reverse of quantitative easing (QE), aimed to increase money supply in order to "stimulate" the economy.
Quantitative easing was massively applied by leading central banks to counter the Great Recession that started in 2008. The prime rates were decreased to zero; some rates later went into the negative territory. For example, to fight with ultra-low inflation or deflation caused by the economic crisis, the European Central Bank, overseeing monetary policy for countries that use the euro, introduced negative rates in 2014. The central banks of Japan, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland also set negative rates.
The main goal of QT is to normalize (i.e. raise) interest rates in order to avoid increasing inflation, by increasing the cost of accessing money and reducing demand for goods and services in the economy. Like QE before it,[needs update] QT has never been done before on a massive scale, and its consequences have yet to materialize and be studied. In 2018, the Federal Reserve began retiring some of the debt on their balance sheet, beginning quantitative tightening. In 2019, less than a year after initiating QT, central banks, including the Federal Reserve, ended quantitative tightening due to negative market conditions occurring soon after.
In December 2021 Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal reserve, was reported as being under pressure to slow down Quantitative easing (QE) and Mortgage-backed security (MBS) purchases due to severe inflation with the CPI reading in November 2021 reaching a record breaking 6.8% according the to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest level in 40 years. Bloomberg News called Powell "Wall Street's Head of State", as a reflection of how dominant Powell's actions were on asset prices and how profitable his actions were for Wall Street.
An effect on asset prices
Whereas QE caused the substantial rise in asset prices over the past decade, QT may cause broadly offsetting effects in the opposite direction. To mitigate the financial market impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Powell accepted asset price inflation as a consequence of Fed policy actions. Powell was criticized for using high levels of direct and indirect quantitative easing as valuations hit levels last seen at the peaks of previous bubbles.
- Jerome Powell
- Consumer price index
- Excess reserves
- Inflation hedge
- Negative interest on excess reserves
- Zero interest-rate policy (ZIRP)
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