Working Paper

Quantitative Easing and Financial Risk Taking: Evidence from Agency Mortgage REITs


Abstract: An emerging literature documents a link between central bank quantitative easing (QE) and financial institution credit risk-taking. This paper tests the complementary hypothesis that QE may also affect financial risk-taking. We study Agency MREITs – levered shadow banks that invest in guaranteed U.S. Agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) principally funded with repo debt. We show that Agency MREIT growth is inversely related to the Federal Reserve’s Agency MBS purchases, reflecting investor portfolio rebalancing. We also find that these institutions increased leverage during the later stages of QE, consistent with “reaching for yield” behavior. Agency MREITs seem to concurrently adjust their liquidity and interest rate risk profiles.

Keywords: Quantitative Easing; Risk Taking; GSEs; Mortgages; Agency MBS;

JEL Classification: E58; G21; G23; G28;

https://doi.org/10.24149/wp2020

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Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2020-06-30

Number: 2020