Quantitative easing has widespread and unequal consequences on banks in the United States. The Federal Reserve has purchased billions upon billions of dollars in assets from certain large commercial banks and other depository institutions. The recipients of these funds see their reserves inflated and they can make additional loans that they otherwise would not have been able to make. On a macroeconomic level, quantitative easing helps to push down interest rates. In turn, banks across the entire country pay less interest money on their deposit accounts and charge lower interest rates on their loans.

One other possible (though difficult to measure) impact of quantitative easing on banks would occur on a bank's investment portfolio. Banks have investments as well, often using depositor funds to purchase assets in lieu of making additional loans. These bank investments would be just as affected as any others if the Fed's quantitative easing program ended up distorting financial markets.

In 2013, consulting firm McKinsey & Company conducted a survey on the distributional effects and risks of quantitative easing in the U.S. and elsewhere. It concluded that the ultra-low interest rates generated by central bank policy have correlated with reduced profitability of eurozone banks and banks in the United Kingdom; banks in the U.S., however, saw a large increase in effective net interest margins and interest income. Part of this could be explained by the fact that borrowing costs dropped more precipitously in the U.S. than elsewhere, but that hypothesis is not completely verifiable.

At the same time that quantitative easing was implemented in the U.S., the Federal Reserve raised the interest rate it would pay to lenders who deposited bank reserves at the Fed. This was a curious move, because it would seem contrary to the Fed's stated policy of increasing the availability of loanable funds in the market. Regardless, bank reserves rose exponentially in the face of quantitative easing. Of course, not all banks received quantitative easing funds, and not all banks can park large deposits at the Fed. Those banks that were not so fortunate could find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Generally speaking, though, banks in the U.S. appear to have enjoyed more liquidity and higher margins on their interest transactions. Bond prices rose sharply in the years following the first quantitative easing program; this benefits large banks that tend to either hold or sell bonds. Since not all banks can share in these benefits equally, quantitative easing results in a transfer of competitive power between different lending institutions.

Some believe that the Fed has created a moral hazard by propping up banks that made poor investments in the past. With more than $4 trillion of credit borrowed from banks, the Fed is also paying interest on a huge balance sheet that makes it easier for banks to absorb risky financial decisions.

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