Thursday, April 04, 2013

Fed's Yellen: Communication in Monetary Policy

by Bill McBride on 4/04/2013 05:55:00 PM

Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen gave an overview about the importance of communication in monetary policy today: Communication in Monetary Policy. Here are a few excerpts related to the eventual exit plan:

The Federal Reserve's ongoing asset purchases continually add to the accommodation that the Federal Reserve is providing to help strengthen the economy. An end to those purchases means that the FOMC has ceased augmenting that support, not that it is withdrawing accommodation. When and how to begin actually removing the significant accommodation provided by the Federal Reserve's large holdings of longer-term securities is a separate matter. In its March statement, the FOMC reaffirmed its expectation that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the current asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery has strengthened. Accordingly, there will likely be a substantial period after asset purchases conclude but before the FOMC starts removing accommodation by reducing asset holdings or raising the federal funds rate.

To guide expectations concerning the process of normalizing the size and composition of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet, at its June 2011 meeting, the FOMC laid out what it called "exit principles." [Note: see below for "exit principles"] In these principles, the FOMC indicated that asset sales would likely follow liftoff of the federal funds rate. It also noted that, in order to minimize the risk of market disruption, the pace of asset sales during this process could be adjusted up or down in response to changes in either the economic outlook or financial conditions. For example, changes in the pace or timing of asset sales might be warranted by concerns over market functioning or excessive volatility in bond markets. While normalization of the Federal Reserve's portfolio is still well in the future, the FOMC is committed to clear communication about the likely path of the balance sheet.

There will come a time when the FOMC begins the process of returning the federal funds rate to a more normal level. In their individual projections submitted for the March FOMC meeting, 13 of the 19 FOMC participants saw the first increase in the target for the federal funds rate as most likely to occur in 2015, and another expected it to occur in 2016. But the course of the economy is uncertain, and the Committee added the thresholds for unemployment and inflation, in part, to help guide the public if economic developments warrant liftoff sooner or later than expected. As the time of the first increase in the federal funds rate moves closer, in my view it will be increasingly important for the Committee to clearly communicate about how the federal funds rate target will be adjusted.
emphasis added
Here are the "exit principles" that Yellen discussed from the June 2011 minutes: Exit Strategy Principles.