Counterparties: The Fed puts (possibly) doing something back on the table
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The Fed could do nothing, or it could try to repeat what it’s already done, while remaining vigilant, if things get worse. Reportedly.
Jon Hilsenrath, the WSJ‘s top Fed reporter — whose words have been known to launch the vaunted “Hilsenrally” – reports this morning that “disappointing U.S. economic data” and worries over Europe “have prompted a shift at the Federal Reserve.” As it happens, “the possibility of action” is now back on the table.
If this edition of the Fed’s latest strategic leaking – what Kate Mackenzie calls the “Fed(wire)” – feels a bit underwhelming, it’s because the Fed has been quite busy over the last four years; its balance sheet has more than tripled since the financial crisis, while inflation has been kept under control and unemployment has remained persistently high.
So what specifically could the Fed do now? For one, Hilsenrath hints at an extension of Operation Twist. Morgan Stanley puts the odds at another round of quantitative easing at a strangely precise 56%. There is also some talk of coordinated global action, in which the Fed would further entice banks to swap their currencies for dollars.
It’s less clear if any of this will help. The WSJ‘s David Wessel evaluates whether the Fed’s post-crisis quantitative easing program has achieved its four main goals: signaling a long period of low rates (success); cutting interest rates for consumers and businesses (success); encouraging investors to buy higher-yielding securities (mixed results); and “pushing the dollar lower, giving exports a lift” (mixed results).
The problem, Wessel figures, is that “with rates already so low and so much else going on, the added benefits of another round of asset buying may be too small to make much difference.” And even if the divided Fed decides to act, Hilsenrath writes, “The Fed’s next meeting, June 19 and 20, could be too soon for conclusive decisions.” – Ryan McCarthy
On to today’s links:
The ECB doesn’t change rates, tells Europe to fix itself and markets jump anyway – NYT
Greece, the cradle of Western thought and where citizens attack tax collectors with whips – NYT
The EU is on autopilot, just like pre-1914 Europe and Cold War weapons systems – Foreign Policy