What You Need to Know
- The path sketched out by the Federal Reserve would wrap the taper process up by June 2022.
- The pace of the taper clears the way for a possible interest-rate increase in the second half of 2022, with nine of 18 officials forecasting a move next year in their September outlook.
- Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries have declined over the past two weeks while rates on two-year notes have risen.
The Federal Reserve said it will begin winding down its monthly asset purchases later this month at a pace of $15 billion per month, while expressing less certainty that the jump in inflation will prove temporary.
The Fed said it would reduce Treasury purchases by $10 billion and mortgage-backed securities by $5 billion, marking the beginning of the end of the program aimed at shielding the economy from Covid-19.
The FOMC decided to maintain the target range for its benchmark policy rate at zero to 0.25%. The decision was unanimous.
After reductions in November and December, “the committee judges that similar reductions in the pace of net asset purchases will likely be appropriate each month, but it is prepared to adjust the pace of purchases if warranted by changes in the economic outlook,” the U.S. central bank’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement Wednesday following a two-day meeting.
The path sketched out would wrap the taper process up by June. The Fed has been buying $80 billion of Treasuries and $40 billion of MBS every month to help stimulate economic activity that was crushed in the initial pandemic lockdown and subsequent uneven recovery.
Ten-year Treasury yields rose while the dollar and S&P 500 were little changed.
Central banks in developed economies globally are shifting their attention to the risk of inflation as supply-chain logjams spur shortages amid strong demand.
The Fed’s preferred inflation measure was 4.4% in the 12 months ending September, the highest in three decades and more than double the central bank’s target. Consumers’ expectations for prices climbed to 4.2% in the same month, the highest in records going back to 2013.
“Inflation is elevated, largely reflecting factors that are expected to be transitory,” officials said in the statement. “Supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic and the reopening of the economy have contributed to sizable price increases in some sectors.”