Business Standard

Powell says Fed may slow bond buying by year-end

- MATTHEW BOESLER

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell (pictured) said the central bank could begin reducing its monthly bond purchases this year, though it won’t be in a hurry to begin raising interest rates thereafter. The economy has now met the test of “substantia­l further progress” toward the Fed’s inflation objective that Powell and his colleagues said would be a preconditi­on for tapering the bond purchases, while the labour market has also made “clear progress,” the Fed chief said Friday in the prepared text of a virtual speech at the Kansas City Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium.

At the Fed’s most recent policy meeting in late July, “I was of the view, as were most participan­ts, that if the economy evolved broadly as anticipate­d, it could be appropriat­e to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year,” Powell said.

“The intervenin­g month has brought more progress in the form of a strong employment report for July, but also the further spread of the delta variant,” he said. “We will be carefully assessing incoming data and the evolving risks.” At the July Federal Open Market Committee meeting, most Fed officials agreed it would probably be appropriat­e to begin tapering the central bank’s $120-billion-amonth bond-buying program before the end of the year, according to a record of the gathering. Some are pushing for a move as soon as next month.

The S&P 500 rose during the much-anticipate­d address to stand over 0.6 per cent higher from opening levels. Ten-year Treasury yields nudged slightly lower to around 1.33 per cent. Monetary policy makers would like to conclude the purchases before officials begin raising interest rates, and several in June saw a possible need for rate increases as early as 2022 amid inflation that is running above the central bank’s 2 per cent target.

“THE TIMING AND PACE OF THE COMING REDUCTION IN ASSET PURCHASES WILL NOT BE INTENDED TO CARRY A DIRECT SIGNAL REGARDING THE TIMING OF INTEREST RATE LIFTOFF”

Jerome Powell,

“WHILE THE UNDERLYING GLOBAL DISINFLATI­ONARY FACTORS ARE LIKELY TO EVOLVE OVER TIME, THERE IS LITTLE REASON TO THINK THAT THEY HAVE SUDDENLY REVERSED OR ABATED”

Federal Reserve Chair

The Fed cut its benchmark rate to nearly zero and relaunched the crisis-era purchase program last year at the onset of the pandemic. Powell cautioned that a move to begin winding down the bond-buying program should not be interprete­d as a sign that rate hikes would soon follow.

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