In a compromise, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has approved a cautious and conservative second round of quantitative easing (QE2) which may satisfy nobody but should prevent internal splits from widening.
It is designed to provide some marginal stimulus to asset markets and economic recovery without further undermining the confidence of foreign investors.
The best way to characterize the $600 billion bond-buying program implemented over eight months is “QE-lite”. The total is slightly higher than expected, but spread over a slightly longer period. The Fed has done almost exactly what it signaled over the last few weeks — no more (there was no “shock and awe”) and no less.
There is an implicit commitment to continue buying securities until the end of June 2011 and to buy $600 billion in total but the figures are described as an intention, so they could be varied in response to changing conditions.
The committee preserved its flexibility by promising to “regularly review the pace of its securities purchases and the overall size of the asset-purchase program in the light of incoming information and will adjust the program as needed”.