Fed Ready To Reduce Its Balance Sheet Soon

The Federal Reserve is ready to start reducing its USD 4.5 trillion asset portfolio within a couple of months and the effect of such normalization on financial markets is expected to be limited, minutes from last FOMC meeting showed. Policymakers viewed the recent softer inflation as temporary, mainly reflecting idiosyncratic factors. The Fed last raised the target range for the federal funds rate by 25bps to 1 percent to 1.25 percent during its June 2017 meeting.

Extracts From the Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee:

Most participants viewed the recent softness in these price data as largely reflecting idiosyncratic factors, including sharp declines in prices of wireless telephone services and prescription drugs, and expected these developments to have little bearing on inflation over the medium run. Participants continued to expect that, as the effects of transitory factors waned and labor market conditions strengthened further, inflation would stabilize around the Committee's 2 percent objective over the medium term. 

Participants noted that, with the process of normalization of the level of the federal funds rate continuing, it would likely become appropriate this year for the Committee to announce and implement a specific timetable for its program of reducing reinvestment of the Federal Reserve's securities holdings. It was observed that the ensuing reduction in securities holdings would be gradual and would follow an extended period of Committee communications on balance sheet normalization policy, including the information that would be released at the conclusion of this meeting. Consequently, the effect on financial market conditions of the eventual announcement of the beginning of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet normalization was expected to be limited.

Participants expressed a range of views about the appropriate timing of a change in reinvestment policy. Several preferred to announce a start to the process within a couple of months; in support of this approach, it was noted that the Committee's communications had helped prepare the public for such a step. However, some others emphasized that deferring the decision until later in the year would permit additional time to assess the outlook for economic activity and inflation. A few of these participants also suggested that a near-term change to reinvestment policy could be misinterpreted as signifying that the Committee had shifted toward a less gradual approach to overall policy normalization.

With respect to the economic outlook and its implications for monetary policy, members continued to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity would expand at a moderate pace, and labor market conditions would strengthen somewhat further. Inflation on a 12-month basis was expected to remain somewhat below 2 percent in the near term, but almost all members expected it to stabilize around 2 percent over the medium term, al­though they were monitoring inflation developments closely. Members continued to judge that there was significant uncertainty about the effects of possible changes in fiscal and other government policies but that near-term risks to the economic outlook appeared roughly balanced, especially as risks related to foreign economic and financial developments had diminished.

Fed Ready To Reduce Its Balance Sheet Soon

Federal Reserve | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
7/5/2017 6:34:36 PM