Monetary policy is not expansionary despite widespread belief otherwise.
The general assumption by the Federal Reserve is that by providing excess reserves to the banking system, the banks would then lend to businesses and individuals to expand economic activity. Furthermore, as discussed previously, the Federal Reserve’s entire premise of inflating asset prices was the subsequent boost to economic activity from an increased “wealth effect.”
“This approach eased financial conditions in the past and, so far, looks to be effective again. Stock prices rose and long-term interest rates fell when investors began to anticipate the most recent action. Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending.” – Ben Bernanke
However, after more than a decade of “monetary policy,” there is little evidence that supports those claims. Instead, there is sufficient evidence that “monetary policy” leads to greater wealth inequality and slower economic growth.
Prima Facie Evidence
The only reason Central Bank liquidity “seems” to be a success is when viewed through the lens of the stock market. Through the end of Q2-2021, using quarterly data, the stock market has returned almost 198% from the 2007 peak. Such is more than 8x the GDP growth and 3.9x the increase in corporate revenue. (I have used SALES growth in the chart below as it is what happens at the top line of income statements and is not AS subject to manipulation.)
Unfortunately, the “wealth effect” impact has only benefited a relatively small percentage of the overall economy. Currently, the top 10% of income earners own nearly 90% of the stock market. The rest are just struggling to make ends meet. Thus, the impact of the Fed’s monetary interventions on the equity value of the top 1% is evident.