One debatable issue with the Fed's quantitative easing (QE) program is whether or not the QE activity has an impact on equity prices. In a recent McKinsey & Company study, QE and ultra-low interest rates: Distributional effects and risks, McKinsey concludes,
"We found little evidence that ultra-low interest rates have boosted equity markets. We cannot discern a large-scale shift into equities as part of a search for yield by investors, and price-earnings ratios and price-book ratios in stock markets are no higher than long-term averages. Although stock prices do react to announcements by central banks, these are transitory effects that do not persist."
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the below chart seems to suggest QE has positively influenced equity prices.
|From The Blog of HORAN Capital Advisors|
Source: McClellan Financial Publications
If QE has had a positive impact on equity prices, the next question becomes what happens when the QE program comes to an end. The recent focus has been on the timing of the Fed "tapering" its purchases. Tapering is still QE but simply in a lesser amount; hence, supportive of equity prices if one believes a positive correlation exists.