Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Fed's Next Move

After its January meeting, the Federal Reserve said it may raise interest rates again "fairly soon" if jobs and inflation data come in line with expectations, according to the minutes released yesterday. While the Fed chose to leave its interest rates unchanged at the meeting three weeks ago, investors widely expect two to three more rate hikes this year, perhaps as early as March.

The documents also showed that the Fed has begun discussing when to start unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet of mortgage-backed and Treasury securities. Those remain on its books after the quantitative easing program, which was an effort to ease lending and stimulate the economy after the financial crisis.

Fed officials  agreed they would start discussing what kind of economic conditions could lead to unloading those securities. Those changes are also expected to boost long-term interest rates.

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