The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy-setting arm, begins a two-day meeting today that is not expected to result in any interest-rate action but could signal the beginning of Fed balance-sheet reduction, according to NAFCU Vice President of Research and Chief Economist Curt Long.
Long attributed the Fed’s potential rate-hike delay to low inflation numbers, though he noted the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could have wide-ranging economic effects. The FOMC indicated at the end of its last meeting that it would begin tapering the Fed’s balance sheet this month, which stands at roughly $4.4 trillion.
The Fed built up its balance sheet during the Great Recession when, through quantitative easing, it bought large quantities of Treasury and mortgage bonds in an effort to boost the stand-still economy and credit markets. It would end this policy through the gradual reduction and eventual elimination of reinvestments of maturing bond returns to the Fed’s portfolio.
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