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Tidbits from the FOMC minutes…


Just going through the FOMC minutes now and there were a couple of interesting bits worth flagging:

Meeting participants again discussed the merits of including agency MBS backed by adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) in the Committee’s MBS purchase program:
Some thought it would be useful to include agency ARM MBS, noting that doing so could reduce
the unusually large spreads between ARM rates and yields on similar-duration Treasury securities—spreads that were far larger than the comparable spreads on fixed-rate mortgages; others saw little potential benefit, given the small stock and limited issuance of ARM MBS, and were hesitant to involve the Federal Reserve in another market segment. The Committee made no decision on purchasing ARM MBS at this meeting.

It just seems odd that they would be discussing expanding the MBS purchasing program at all when the debate seems to be hinging on whether it’s time to think about pulling back on it. See my posting on it here. Also, not sure they want to be in the business of stimulating riskier segments of the mortgage market.

Participants also discussed the merits of progressively reducing the pace at which the Federal Reserve buys Treasury securities, agency debt, and agency MBS prior to the end of the asset purchase programs. They generally were of the view that gradually slowing the pace of the Committee’s purchases of $300 billion of Treasury securities and extending their completion to the end of October could help promote a smooth transition in markets. A number of participants noted that a similar tapering of agency debt and MBS purchases could be helpful in the future as those programs approach completion. The Committee made no decisions on tapering those purchases at this meeting.

Federal Reserve – The long way home


– Christopher Swann is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) – Seldom in its history has the Federal Reserve faced the challenge of articulating how it might conduct monetary policy a year or more ahead. But with the Fed balance sheet at an unprecedented 14 percent of GDP, markets and lawmakers are demanding assurances that the central bank will be able to slim down quickly when the time comes.

First exit for the Fed


Call it a battle for beginnings and endings, and the Federal Reserve is smack in the middle.

As Fed policymakers convene for a two-day meeting starting on Tuesday, the lines are growing more defined between those who want the Fed to do more to stimulate a still fragile economy, and those who are calling for a defined exit strategy to prevent the global economy from going into an inflation-inducing overdrive.