Fed reduces bond-buying program by $10 bln per month
Bernanke was about to make his last scheduled news conference as head of the Fed on Wednesday afternoon when the bank’s newest plan was revealed.
The Fed has up until now spent $85 billion a month on bond purchases, but will reduce that significantly and split the difference in reductions to both mortgage-backed securities and Treasury securities.
“In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions, the Committee decided to modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases,” reads a statement from the bank.
“Beginning in January, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $35 billion per month rather than $40 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $40 billion per month rather than $45 billion per month.”
The Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, voted near-unanimously for the change. The only dissenter was Eric S. Rosengren, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Fed, who feared a policy change was being enacted too much, too soon.
“[W]ith the unemployment rate still elevated and the inflation rate well below the target, changes in the purchase program are premature until incoming data more clearly indicate that economic growth is likely to be sustained above its potential rate,” Rosengren argued, according to the statement released by the central bank.
A Staff Economic Projections report also released by the FOMC on Wednesday was more optimistic, however. According to that study, the committee believes the 2014 unemployment rate forcast may now range from 6.3 to 6.6 percent, down from a range of 6.4 to 6.8 percent.
Upon news of the changes, stocks in the US rose almost immediately. Within minutes, the Dow Jones industrial average rose by 0.32 percent to 15,925.69, and the S&P 500 gained 0.02 points to 1,781.02, Reuters reported.
Bernanke will exit his role with the Fed in January and pass the torch to Janet Yellen, the current vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System who is expected to continue Bernanke's policies while at the bank's helm.