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quantitative easing

Quantitative easing (QE) is an unconventional monetary policy tool that consists in a large-scale purchasing of assets by a central bank using money that it has newly created.

It is more colloquially referred to as “printing money”, though no actual banknotes are printed. Merely, money is electronically “created”.

QE aims to raise the price of government bonds while simultaneously driving down their yields. This is a method used to push banks to invest in riskier assets and lend more to businesses and individuals.

These monetary stimulus measures have a direct impact on the exchange rate, as it causes the depreciation of the currency. In the Eurozone, for instance, only the  expectation of a 18-month long QE programme announced by the European Central Bank at the start of 2015 triggered a sharp depreciation in the euro, that reached its lowest level in 9 years against the U.S. dollar.

Prices of commodities, including precious metals, and stocks, tend to rise when QE is in action. European stock markets climbed to their highest levels in 7 years in expectation of the ECB QE programme, which involved the purchase of €1.1 trillion of assets.

The U.S. stock market experienced sustained highs largely as a result of the 6 year long QE programme implemented by the Federal Reserve, which ran from 2008 to 2014.