Wednesday, April 05, 2017

FOMC Minutes: "A change to the Committee's reinvestment policy would likely be appropriate later this year"

by Bill McBride on 4/05/2017 02:10:00 PM

From the Fed: Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, March 14 - 15, 2017. Excerpts:

Provided that the economy continued to perform about as expected, most participants anticipated that gradual increases in the federal funds rate would continue and judged that a change to the Committee's reinvestment policy would likely be appropriate later this year. Many participants emphasized that reducing the size of the balance sheet should be conducted in a passive and predictable manner. ...
When the time comes to implement a change to reinvestment policy, participants generally preferred to phase out or cease reinvestments of both Treasury securities and agency MBS. Policymakers also discussed the potential benefits and costs of approaches that would either phase out or cease all at once reinvestments of principal from these securities. An approach that phased out reinvestments was seen as reducing the risks of triggering financial market volatility or of potentially sending misleading signals about the Committee's policy intentions while only modestly slowing reductions in the Committee's securities holdings. An approach that ended reinvestments all at once, however, was generally viewed as easier to communicate while allowing for somewhat swifter normalization of the size of the balance sheet. To promote rapid normalization of the size and composition of the balance sheet, one participant preferred to set a minimum pace for reductions in MBS holdings and, if and when necessary, to sell MBS to maintain such a pace.

Nearly all participants agreed that the Committee's intentions regarding reinvestment policy should be communicated to the public well in advance of an actual change. It was noted that the Committee would continue its deliberations on reinvestment policy during upcoming meetings and would release additional information as it becomes available. In that context, several participants indicated that, when the Committee announces its plans for a change to its reinvestment policy, it would be desirable to also provide more information to the public about the Committee's expectations for the size and composition of the Federal Reserve's assets and liabilities in the longer run.
emphasis added