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Monday, January 31, 2011

QE2 Speculation and Summary

by Calculated Risk on 1/31/2011 04:40:00 PM

Some random thoughts ...

• QE2 Changes: I'm hearing speculation that the Fed might taper off the QE2 purchases of treasury securities to "promote a smooth transition in markets". Currently the plan is to purchase $600 billion in Treasury securities by the end of Q2 or about $75 billion per month. The speculation is that the size will remain the same ($600 billion), but that the Fed will taper off the purchases through the end of Q3 or so.

That is what the Fed did with previous purchase programs. In August 2009 for Treasury securities:

To promote a smooth transition in markets as these purchases of Treasury securities are completed, the Committee has decided to gradually slow the pace of these transactions and anticipates that the full amount will be purchased by the end of October.
And the same decision in September 2009 for MBS:
Committee will gradually slow the pace of these purchases in order to promote a smooth transition in markets and anticipates that they will be executed by the end of the first quarter of 2010.
• Egypt. I continue to read the Al Jazeera Egypt live blog (the link changes for each day Egypt time). Hopefully there will be a positive and peaceful outcome for the Egyptian people.

A common email question is about the impact on the U.S. economy. My view is this could impact the U.S. by pushing up oil prices, especially if 1) protests spreads to larger oil producers in the Middle East, or 2) the Suez canal is closed. Both seem unlikely in the short term, although my view could change with events. Oil prices have already risen, also from the WSJ: Brent Crude Tops $100. Here is some analysis from Professor Hamilton at Econbrowser: Geopolitical unrest and world oil markets

Q4 2010: Homeownership Rate Falls to 1998 Levels

This is based on the Housing Vacancies and Homeownership survey. What is important about this survey is the trends for the homeownership rate, and homeowner and rental vacancy rates. This shows a sharp drop in the rental vacancy rate as many households move from owning to renting and also suggests the excess housing inventory is being absorbed.

In the Graph Gallery: Homeownership rate, Homeowner vacancy rate, Rental vacancy rate.

• The Chicago PMI was Strong, the Dallas Fed Index was Weak. The Chicago PMI is far more useful as an indicator for the economy the the Dallas Fed index, and the Chicago PMI was very strong (including for employment). I expect the ISM manufacturing index tomorrow to show strong expansion in January (similar to December).

Personal Income and Outlays Report for December. Includes graph for Real PCE, Personal Saving and Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments. Personal consumption has been increasing faster than personal income - that probably isn't sustainable.

• From the Federal Reserve The January 2011 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices. In general banks have stopped tightening standards (they are already very tight), and demand has stopped falling (there is little demand for loans) - and a special question showed banks are more "upbeat" on delinquencies and charge-offs in 2011 ...

• Some research from the San Francisco Fed: Estimating the Macroeconomic Effects of the Fed's Asset Purchases

• Some research from the Cleveland Fed: High Unemployment after the Recession: Mostly Cyclical, but Adjusting Slowly

And from the weekend:
Summary for Week ending January 29th
Schedule for Week of January 30th
BLS Employment Revisions on Feb 4th