More Fed QE: done deal or Pavlovian response?

September 12, 2012

“Will he or won’t he?” That’s what investors, traders and policy-watchers in the financial markets are pondering, frozen at their terminals waiting to find out if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will persuade his colleagues to print more money this week.

Guarded Bernanke still manages to toss a bone to Wall Street and Washington

August 31, 2012

Ben Bernanke has done it again. In his much-anticipated speech Friday, the Federal Reserve chairman managed to tell both investors and politicians what they wanted to hear – that “the stagnation of the labor market in particular is a grave concern” – all while saying next to nothing new about where U.S. monetary policy is actually headed. That the Fed, as Bernanke also noted, stands ready to ease policy more if needed was well known to anyone paying attention the last few months. We also know that the high jobless rate, at 8.3 percent in July, has long been Bernanke’s main headache in this tepid economic recovery.

Four reasons the Fed could buy mortgages

August 7, 2012
The U.S. Federal Reserve will probably focus on buying mortgage bonds if it decides to launch a third round of quantitative easing or QE3 at its September meeting, says Columbia Management’s senior interest rate strategist Zach Pandl, until recently an economist at Goldman Sachs.
1. Since the second phase of Operation Twist just got underway, “it would be strange to announce outright purchases of Treasury securities.” 2. Fed officials have publicly noted that continued purchases of long-term Treasury securities “might compromise the functioning of the Treasury market — and undermine the intended effects of the policy.” 3. San Francisco Fed President John Williams “directly advocated” mortgage purchases and Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen has said that “beyond the Twist extension, ‘it’s more likely that [the FOMC] would do things that would take a different form.’” 4. “Purchases of mortgage-backed securities may be considered less controversial than Treasury bond purchases amidst the charged political environment, just prior to the presidential election.”

Like over-hyped Olympian, Fed set to disappoint

July 31, 2012

Pity the Federal Reserve. Like an over-hyped Olympian, the U.S. central bank enters this week’s policy meeting with sky-high expectations and a high probability of disappointment.

Excuses, excuses: The problem with ‘structural’ explanations for U.S. unemployment

July 11, 2012

It’s an arcane economics debate with all-too-real implications for U.S. monetary policy: Is high unemployment primarily the result of “structural” factors like skills mismatches and difficulties relocating, or is it largely due to insufficient consumer demand in a weak economic recovery?

Fed doves ‘will not be patient’

July 2, 2012

Ellen Freilich contributed to this post

The Fed did the twist. Will it shout as well? There has been some debate among economists about whether the U.S. central bank might launch a third round of outright bond buys or QE3 given that it just prolonged Operation Twist.

Get ready for QE3 if things don’t get better soon

June 20, 2012

Ben Bernanke appears to be reluctantly gearing up for a third round of large-scale Federal Reserve bond buying, so-called QE3. Millan Mulraine of TD Securities captures just how likely further monetary easing is becoming following the Fed’s decision on Wednesday to expand Operation Twist.

As financial conditions tighten, Fed may have to run to stay in place

June 8, 2012

Seemingly lost in the talk about whether or not the Federal Reserve should ease again is the idea that financial conditions have tightened and the U.S. central bank may have to offer additional stimulus if only to offset that tightening. Writes Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius:

Fed policy: So many risks, so few tools

June 4, 2012

Chris Reese contributed to this post.

A barrage of rotten economic news around the world has suddenly and vigorously reawakened the prospect of additional monetary easing by the Federal Reserve – most notably a report on Friday showing job growth slowed sharply in recent months.

Inflation no obstacle to more Fed easing

May 25, 2012

Another reason the Federal Reserve may have additional room for monetary easing: Inflation expectations fell sharply in May, according to the latest Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment. Inflation expectations five years out dropped to 2.7 percent in May, the lowest since January. Fed officials often say expectations are a key leading indicator of actual price increases.