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I was on BNN last night talking about the Fed’s options at Jackson. Click on the link to watch the video:
From the most flimsy to the most aggressive, here are 5 of the Fed’s options:
1. “We are also worried” – If the Fed opts to do nothing more than express their concern about the economy and give an ambiguous pledge to do all that is necessary, investors will be sorely disappointed.
2. Extends 2013 pledge to Securities Portfolio – When the Fed met earlier this month, they tweaked the extended language sentence of their FOMC statement to say that the Fed Funds rate would remain at exceptionally low levels at least through mid 2013. They can opt to extend this pledge to their securities portfolio which leaves open the door to QE3 without explicitly initiating it.
3. Operation Twist – The Fed could also bring back a tool used in the 1960s that twisted the yield curve by selling short term bonds and buying longer term bonds. This would drive short term yields up and long term yield down which effectively extends the maturity of their securities portfolio without increasing the balance sheet. This would be a more aggressive action than another language tweak (see #2).
4. Reduce Interest on Reserves to ZIRP – The central bank could also cut the interest paid on reserves from 0.25 percent to 0 percent or cut swap line rates in order to bring down the tremendous amount of liquidity.
5. Another Round of QE – The most aggressive options would be for the Fed to introduce another round of stimulus but given the level of inflation and the criticism of QE2, this option may be the least likely. One other possibility is inflation targeting but this “nuclear option” is so unlikely that it is not allocated its own category.