I’m pretty sure that the answer is ‘No’, at least for now. For background, the effective Fed Funds rate has been falling steadily for the last couple of months:
Manila has raised its key policy rates quarter of a point – as signalled – to combat rising prices and manage inflation expectations. The overnight borrowing rate now stands at 4.25 per cent and the overnight lending rate at 6.25 per cent. The interest rates on term repos, reverse repos, and special deposit accounts were also raised accordingly.
Inflation is running at the high end of the 3-5 per cent target range, and deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo said it would have averaged 5.2 per cent this year without today’s interest rate move. The central bank indicated further upward inflation pressure lay ahead, and that appropriate policy action would be taken. Analysts expect another one or two such rate rises this year, though some observed that domestic interest rate rises would have limited impact on imported global food and energy inflation. Read more
India’s Bank rate, standing facilities and Liquidity Adjustment Facility – in short, the key tools the Bank uses to transmit its policy decisions to the real economy – are to be examined and compared with processes at major central banks by a special team at the RBI. Suggestions for changes are expected in three months’ time from the newly constituted Working Group on Operating Procedure of Monetary Policy, the Bank said.
The system of daily auctions, which absorb or inject liquidity – the Liquidity Adjustment Facility, or LAF – will come under particular scrutiny. Here there are no sacred cows: the group will examine the frequency and timing of auctions; the maturity period of the repos and reverse repos used to inject/absorb liquidity; and the size of the gap between the repo and reverse repo rates (the “corridor”). Indeed, the group should consider whether there should be a corridor at all. If so, it should consider whether its width be fixed or variable; and how to optimise its efficiency. Read more
Perhaps to offset rumours of further easing, the Fed has announced further trial runs of a key tightening tool.
The New York Fed will test one of its main liquidity-draining tools by conducting a “series of small-scale, real-value reverse repurchase transactions” with primary dealers et al. This repeats and expands upon a similar set of tests announced in October and run in December. Read more
The Fed is taking a Shakespearean attitude toward the exit: monetary tightening, a necessary end, will come when it will come.
But while the US central bank has made clear that the timing of the exit is still unknown, it’s taking steps to get ready for it when it comes. Read more
A new debate is set to rage within the Fed in the wake of its decision to re-open currency swap lines with foreign central banks.
Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, today said at an event in North Carolina that the move was “not a problem” but “we’re going to think about whether we sterilise” the swaps. Read more
The Federal Reserve today moved one – itty bitty – step closer to getting reverse repos ready to drain the system of excess reserves. Not that they’re in much of a hurry – monetary tightening still seems to be a long way off in the distance, but nice to be prepared. Read more
Snow could delay the hearing, but not the exit.
Today, after a six-week inclement weather delay, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, spoke before the House Financial Service Committee on how the central bank plans to become, once again, a standard central bank, unwinding itself from the emergency liquidity programmes it developed during the crisis and getting its balance sheet back to a more normal size. Mr Bernanke’s testimony was released when the committee was originally scheduled to meet in February.
So has the Fed developed further details in its exit strategy? Here’s what’s new from the hearing, as it happened. Read more
The FOMC today kept the federal fund rates unchanged and didn’t change its closely-watched “extended period” language.
Analysts had been waiting to see if more FOMC members would vote against keeping the extended period language, but the only vote against it was Thomas M. Hoenig, who had previously used his new voting powers to dissent during the January meeting. This month, he gave a reason for his dissent saying that “continuing to express the expectation of exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period was no longer warranted because it could lead to the buildup of financial imbalances and increase risks to longer-run macroeconomic and financial stability.”
But, despite the Hoenig dissent, the meeting took the US no closer to policy normalisation. Read more
Two of the least appealing features of central banks through the crisis have been their petty point scoring and over-complication of their operations. This creates the impression of big differences in approach, which I will explain is not true.
First, let me demonstrate what I am talking about with the use of a few examples. Spencer Dale, the Bank of England’s chief economist, crowed last week that “unlike some other central banks”, the Bank of England can “withdraw the stimulus, raising the bank rate and selling assets” without the “need to create new instruments to drain excess reserves or alter the terms of existing facilities”. But he was was not brave enough either to say that he was talking about the Fed, or to mention the complete failure of the Bank’s own sterling monetary framework during the crisis and its subsequent “alteration”.
But Spencer is far from alone. As Ralph has regularly pointed out, the ECB believes it spotted the crisis earlier than anyone else, thinks its liquidity operations were superior to those operated by the Fed and Bank of England before the crisis, and suggests it is ahead of the game on exit strategies.
The Fed, meanwhile, has got everyone excited about reverse repos and a whole raft of three and four-letter acronyms which serve, more often than not, to obscure its underlying policy rather than reveal it.
Rather than get irritated or confused by these traits, I would suggest that everyone remember the four following points about the banks’ plans to exit from their extremely loose policies:
1. They are all gradually eliminating their extraordinary liquidity policies
At its peak, the Fed was lending Read more