Whatever It Takes? The Impact of Conditional Policy Promises
At the announcement of a new policy, agents form a view of state-contingent policy actions and impact. We develop a method to estimate this state-contingent perception and implement it for many asset-purchase interventions worldwide. Expectations of larger support in bad states—“policy puts”—explain a large fraction of the announcements’ impact. For example, when the Fed introduced purchases of corporate bonds in March 2020, markets expected five times more price support had conditions worsened relative to the median scenario. Perceived promises of additional support in bad states persistently distort asset prices, risk, and the response to future announcements.