One of the major stories of the last decade was central bank enthusiasm for what’s called quantitative easing, or in simpler terms, creating money by buying bonds and other financial assets from banks and other private institutions.
Chris Bennett, director of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, decided to add all those purchases up.
Led by the Bank of Japan, central banks have collectively added $10 trillion in assets over the last decade.
To put that in perspective, central bank bond buying was the same size as the free float of Taiwan, India, Germany, Brazil, Canada, France and the U.K. — yes, combined — in 2009, when the world was in recession and central bankers such as Ben Bernanke led the charge to revive the economy.
Now, legally, the Federal Reserve is not allowed to buy equities, though not all central banks are similarly constrained. The Bank of Japan in fact is set to become the top shareholder in Tokyo-listed companies by next year, according to one calculation.
The stock market has done just fine even without direct purchases. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
is up 320% from its 2009 bear-market low.