Quantitative tightening

Quantitative tightening

A process known as quantitative tightening, or QT, has drawn attention as central banks worldwide steadily shrink their balance sheets and remove liquidity from the financial system. This process has wide-ranging effects on financial markets, monetary policy, and economic stability, generating discussions and studies of its influence and possible threats. 

What is QT? 

A monetary policy instrument known as QT is used by central banks to shrink the size of their balance sheets and remove liquidity from the financial system. It contrasts with quantitative easing, or QE, which involves central banks buying assets to boost the economy.  

The amount of money in circulation is decreased in QT when central banks sell their assets, such as mortgage-backed securities or government bonds, or allow them to mature. After a period of monetary stimulus, QT aims to normalise monetary policy, avoid asset bubbles, and manage inflation. It might greatly affect interest rates, financial markets, and economic expansion. 

Understanding QT 

Central banks often reduce the size of their balance sheets and remove liquidity from the financial system as part of QT, which is frequently accomplished by taking steps like selling or not reinvesting securities that are about to mature that were bought during times of QE.  

QT attempts to manage inflation, normalise financial markets, and re-establish the central bank’s policy flexibility by lowering the amount of money in circulation and tightening monetary conditions. The QT process is typically slow and carefully controlled to prevent significant economic and financial market disruptions. 

Risks associated with QT 

The following are the risks of QT: 

  • QT may cause financial markets to become more volatile due to the lack of liquidity. A sudden shift in the amount of money available can lead to major price adjustments and destabilise the value of assets. 
  • Lowering central bank balance sheets that quantitative tightening normally entails can increase interest rates. Increased borrowing rates may affect consumers and businesses, thereby reducing economic development. 
  • QT might reveal flaws in the financial system, especially if there are high levels of debt or if some industries or institutions depend largely on central bank liquidity. 
  • Major central banks’ QT may impact other countries’ economies and financial markets. Exchange rates, capital flows, and financial stability can all be impacted by changes in interest rates and liquidity circumstances in one country. 
  • An economic downturn might happen if QT is conducted too forcefully or at the wrong moment. Reduced consumer spending, company investment, and general economic activity may be consequences of less liquidity and higher borrowing rates. 

Benefits of QT 

The following are the benefits of QT: 

  • QT tries to curb inflation and reduce the dangers of overly accommodative monetary policy. To assist in preserving price stability and avoid the emergence of inflationary forces, the central bank might shrink its balance sheet and remove liquidity from the market. 
  • QT can be used to combat financial market excess risk-taking and possible asset bubbles. It can deter speculative behaviour and encourage more sensible investment decisions by restricting the availability of cheap and abundant liquidity. 
  • With the help of QT, central banks may normalise their monetary policies and make room for future changes. Central banks can reclaim their capacity to respond to impending economic crises and execute necessary policy changes by lowering the size of their balance sheets. 
  • QT aids in the normalisation of financial markets after monetary easing and expansionary policies. It attempts to improve capital allocation efficiency and return market conditions to a more stable level by lowering reliance on central bank assistance. 

Example of QT 

The steps taken by the US Federal Reserve in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis serve as an example of QT. The Fed started QT to dismantle its balance sheet after years of using QE to boost the economy and support financial markets.  

The Fed started progressively decreasing its holdings of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed assets, which were gathered during the QE programmes, starting in October 2017. This shrinkage of the Fed’s balance sheet was an instance of QE. The Fed permitted some of these securities to mature as part of the QT procedure without reinvesting the profits.  

The Fed’s holdings and the total amount of liquidity available in the financial system gradually decreased due to the steady decline in the reinvestment of maturing assets. The Fed’s QT illustrates the effort the central bank is making to normalise monetary policy and gradually reduce the extraordinary stimulus it supplied during the crisis. With little impact on the financial markets or the overall economy, it attempted to shrink the balance sheet. 

Frequently Asked Questions

QT entails reducing a central bank’s balance sheet by selling or letting previously acquired assets, such as government bonds, mature, which tightens monetary conditions by lowering the money supply and draining liquidity from the financial system. 

The duration of QT varies and is determined by national policy and economic circumstances. Depending on their goals and assessments of the economy, central banks may execute QT for a few months to many years. 

Depending on their financial situation, different people may experience different repercussions from QT. QE is the exact opposite of QT. The Fed executes QT by selling treasury bonds or allowing them to mature and be removed from its cash reserves. Thus, QT can cause financial markets to become unstable, which might lead to an international economic catastrophe. Additionally, higher interest rates, fewer lending options, and potential effects on asset prices and investment returns are all possible outcomes. 

QE entails purchasing financial assets to increase the economy’s liquidity. QT requires reducing such assets to remove liquidity from the financial system. 


When a central bank shrinks its balance sheet and removes liquidity from the financial system, this is referred to as QT. Tapering describes a central bank’s progressive slowing down of its pace of asset purchases as part of its quantitative easing programme. 

Related Terms

    Read the Latest Market Journal

    Weekly Updates 25/9/23 – 29/9/23

    Published on Sep 25, 2023 16 

    This weekly update is designed to help you stay informed and relate economic and company...

    Top traded counters in August 2023

    Published on Sep 19, 2023 269 

    Start trading on POEMS! Open a free account here! The market at a glance: US...

    Weekly Updates 18/9/23 – 22/9/23

    Published on Sep 18, 2023 31 

    This weekly update is designed to help you stay informed and relate economic and company...

    The Merits of Dollar Cost Averaging

    Published on Sep 15, 2023 55 

    Have you ever seen your colleagues, friends or family members on the phone with their...

    Singapore Market: Buy the Dip or Dollar-Cost Averaging?

    Published on Sep 14, 2023 47 

    To the uninitiated, investing in the stock market can be deemed exhilarating and challenging. The...

    What are covered calls and why are they so popular?

    Published on Sep 12, 2023 536 

    Table of Contents Introduction Understanding Covered Calls Benefits of Covered Calls Popularity Factors Potential Drawbacks...

    Why Do Bid-Ask Spread Matter in Trading?

    Published on Sep 11, 2023 33 

    Why Do Bid-Ask Spread Matter in Trading? The bid-ask spread is the difference between the...

    Weekly Updates 11/9/23 – 15/9/23

    Published on Sep 11, 2023 14 

    This weekly update is designed to help you stay informed and relate economic and company...

    Contact us to Open an Account

    Need Assistance? Share your Details and we’ll get back to you