– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own. —

Plotting an exit strategy and shrinking the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has become a hot topic as policymakers try to underscore their commitment to price stability and markets ponder the risk of inflation.

But micro-managing the reserve base is a curiously inadequate way to respond to medium-term concerns about inflation. Interest rates (the cost of credit) and supervision (leverage) are broader, more appropriate tools.

It is irrelevant whether the Fed sells its assets back to the market. What matters is whether and when the central bank is prepared to raise the price of borrowing.


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to use his testimony to the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday to outline plans for taking back some of the liquidity it injected during the crisis.