Fed meeting preview: FOMC to wave goodbye to QE

October 28, 2014

WASHINGTON (10/29/14)--At the end of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) two-day monetary policy meeting today, the Federal Reserve likely will announce it has purchased its final round of bonds, thereby closing the book on quantitative easing, the policy tool it has used for the last three years to stimulate the lending market and the economy.

Over that time, the Fed has purchased $1.6 trillion in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, amassing a hefty balance sheet that at some point it must begin to unload (MarketWatch Oct. 28).

The other major decision the FOMC must make in the coming months is when it will begin raising short-term interest rates, as employment has climbed to levels at which the Fed has said it would like to see before raising rates.

Though, with stumbling inflation--the other indicator the Fed says it will rely on when making this decision--a change in forward guidance at the end of today's meeting appears unlikely.

Many expect the FOMC to once again state that it will wait a considerable time to hike short-term rates (MarketWatch).

"The Fed has little appetite for minor tweaking of language," Michael Gregory, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, told MarketWatch.

The vague wording could instill confidence in investors and help avoid destabilizing the market, while at the same time leaving the door open for a number of next steps for the FOMC depending on what happens to inflation.

The FOMC likely also will state today that it will take action if inflation remains below 2%, Paul Edelstein, director of U.S. financial economics at HIS Global Insight, told MarketWatch.

Despite growing fears that inflation will continue to stumble, however, there doesn't appear to be much support for extending quantitative easing into December.