DP14656 Unconventional Monetary Policy and Wealth Inequalities in Great Britain

Author(s): Anastasios Evgenidis, Apostolos Fasianos
Publication Date: April 2020
Keyword(s): Household portfolios, monetary policy, Quantitative easing, survey data, VAR, Wealth Inequality
JEL(s): D31, E21, E52, H31
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14656

This paper explores whether unconventional monetary policy operations have redistributive effects on household wealth. Drawing on household balance sheet data from the Wealth and Asset Survey, we construct monthly time series indicators on the distribution of different asset types held by British households for the period that the monetary policy switched, as the policy rate reached the zero-lower bound. Using this series, we estimate the response of wealth inequalities on monetary policy, taking into account the effect of unconventional policies conducted by the Bank of England in response to the Global Financial Crisis. Our evidence reveals that unconventional monetary policy shocks have significant and lingering effects on wealth inequality: the shock raises wealth inequality across households, as measured by their Gini coefficients, percentile shares, and other standard inequality indicators. Additionally, we explore the effects of different transmission channels simultaneously. We find that the portfolio rebalancing channel and house price effects widen the wealth gap, outweighing the counterbalancing impact of the savings redistribution and inflation channels. The findings of our analysis help to raise awareness of central bankers about the redistributive effects of their monetary policy decisions.