September FOMC meeting, Fed asset purchase tapering 

Business

Jason Ryan, Staff

Header Image: Market Realist

The Federal Reserve concluded its September meeting and announced plans that it may soon begin the process of slowing its asset purchases. 

This past Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) held its sixth meeting of the year in Washington, D.C. that included some highly anticipated news. At the meeting, the Fed announced that the economy has made progress toward its goal of maximum employment and price stability, and that if development continues, the FOMC will soon taper their securities. The Fed has maintained its current strategy for now, but the statement of potentially looming asset tapering is a substantial change from past meetings.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted in his press conference that he decided to put off the unpleasant business of announcing when the Fed will peel back its bond purchases — a process known as tapering — as too many economic uncertainties flourish. Such security purchases have been a key part of the economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, those policies helped stabilize the economy, and they have since been a crucial part of the Fed’s accommodating monetary policy stance.

However, Powell stated that “if progress continues broadly as expected, the committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted,” adding together that if the economy remains on path, this situation could result in a gradual tapering process that wraps up by mid-2022. With this, the tapering of asset purchasing could begin soon, meaning the Fed’s long-promised signaling has arrived; nevertheless, Powell has still yet to commit to a specific timeline. 

Powell also indicated that growth made with inflation is still not a long-term concern, even as the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) includes a higher median inflation forecast for 2021 than June’s SEP. Powell’s personal view halted that the assessment for significant progress to employment has been “all but met.”

The SEP announced this month reflects the Fed’s awareness of current economic conditions. The FOMC’s mean inflation expectations for 2021 grew from 3.4 percent in June to 4.2 percent in the latest forecast; however, Powell has insisted that the committee looks at inflation as transitory due to pandemic-related supply factors. For instance, he cited the automotive industry’s supply chain issues in particular during the September press conference.

The meeting concluded with no members of the FOMC predicting a change to the federal funds rate in 2021, but more of them now anticipate an increase in intensity in 2022 relative to June’s predictions. The 18 participants are equally split between anticipating a small boost to the federal funds rate in 2022 and expecting a rate change in 2023 or later.

ryanj21@lasalle.edu

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