FOMC minutes show Fed could begin reducing balance sheet in September

Lending

Minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting shows it will start to reduce its massive $4.5 trillion in debt as soon as September, according to an article by Jeffry Bartash for MarketWatch.

The Federal Open Market Committee met in June, where it decided to raise rates for the second time in 2017. The first rate hike of occurred during the Fed’s March meeting.

In its last meeting, the Fed said it would begin to whittle down its hoard of U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities at some point this year. Now, the minutes point toward a reduction beginning in September.

From the minutes:

The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. The Committee currently expects to begin implementing a balance sheet normalization program this year, provided that the economy evolves broadly as anticipated. This program, which would gradually reduce the Federal Reserve’s securities holdings by decreasing reinvestment of principal payments from those securities, is described in the accompanying addendum to the Committee’s Policy Normalization Principles and Plans.

The minutes specified, “several preferred to announce the start of the process within a couple of months.”

The MarketWatch article explained the Fed bought trillions in bong holdings after the Great Recession in order to lower interest rates and prop up the economy, expanding the balance sheet to record levels.

From the article:

Now the bank wants to gradually withdraw the stimulus as the economy, entering its ninth year of expansion, returns closer to normal. In June, the Fed raised a key interest rate tied to the cost of borrowing for the second time this year.

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