JKH at Monetary Realism writes:
….there is a systematic tendency in the blogosphere and elsewhere to misrepresent the impact of QE in a particular way in terms of the related macroeconomic flow of funds…… Most descriptions will erroneously treat the macro flow as if banks were the original portfolio source of the bonds that are being sold to the Fed, obtaining reserves in exchange. This is not the case. A cursory scan of Fed flow of funds statistics will confirm that commercial banks are relatively small holders of bonds in their portfolios, especially Treasury bonds. The vast proportion of bonds that are sold to the Fed in QE originate from non-bank portfolios……. Many descriptions of QE instead erroneously suggest the strong presence of a bank principal function in which bonds from bank portfolios are simply exchanged for reserves. In fact, for the most part, while the banking system has received reserve credit for bonds sold to the Fed, it has also passed on credits to the accounts of non-bank customers who have sold their bonds to the banks. This is integral to the overall QE flow of bonds.
There is a simpler explanation of what happens when the Fed purchases bonds under QE. Bank balance sheets expand as sellers deposit the sale proceeds with their bank. In addition to the deposit liability the bank also receives an asset, being a credit to its account with the Fed. Unless the bank is able to make better use of its asset by making loans to credit-worthy borrowers, the funds are likely to remain on deposit at the Fed as excess reserves — earning interest at 0.25% per year. Excess reserves on deposit at the Fed currently stand at close to $1.8 trillion, reflecting the dearth of (reasonably secure) lending/investment opportunities in the broader economy.
Read more at The Accounting Quest of Steve Keen | Monetary Realism.