As the Federal Reserve meets this week, unemployment is still too high and inflation remains, well, too low. That makes some investors wonder why policymakers are talking about curtailing their asset-buying stimulus plan. True, job growth has averaged a solid 172,000 net new positions per month over the last year, going at least some way to meeting the Fed’s criteria of substantial improvement for halting bond purchases.
So, either policymakers see brighter skies ahead or they want to get out of QE3 for other reasons they may rather not air too publicly: worries about efficacy or possible financial market bubbles.
“I don’t think the data dependent emphasis is the only ball the Fed is focusing on when mulling over the pace and extent of asset purchases,” says Thomas Lam, chief economist at OSK-DSG.
In advance of this week’s two-day meeting culminating on Wednesday with Chairman Ben Bernanke’s press conference, it is worth re-reading the actual language of the Federal Reserve act (Section 2A.) that pertains to monetary policy objectives:
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.