How does quantitative easing work?
Large-scale purchases of government bonds lower the interest rates or ‘yields’ on those bonds (this site explains more about bond yields). This pushes down on the interest rates offered on loans (eg mortgages or business loans) because rates on government bonds tend to affect other interest rates in the economy.
So QE works by making it cheaper for households and businesses to borrow money – encouraging spending.
In addition, QE can stimulate the economy by boosting a wide range of financial asset prices.
Suppose we buy £1 million of government bonds from a pension fund. In place of the bonds, the pension fund now has £1 million in money. Rather than hold on to this money, it might invest it in financial assets, such as shares, that give it a higher return. And when demand for financial assets is high, with more people wanting to buy them, the value of these assets increases. This makes businesses and households holding shares wealthier – making them more likely to spend more, boosting economic activity.