My fretting about the possible size of a Twist turned out to be pointless. A few thoughts:
This is consistent with a very bleak economic outlook and short-term rates on hold for a very long time. That is reflected in the statement with the reference to “significant downside risks”. There is a sense that the Fed has rethought the nature of the recovery and concluded that a rapid return to full employment is just not going to happen. Read more
From the FOMC statement:
To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with the dual mandate, the Committee decided today to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities. The Committee intends to purchase, by the end of June 2012, $400 billion of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 6 years to 30 years and to sell an equal amount of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 3 years or less. This program should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help make broader financial conditions more accommodative. The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate. Read more
The minutes of the September Monetary Policy Committee meeting make QE2 a matter of when, not if.
However, as FT Alphaville’s Neil Hume writes, the MPC also discussed three other options. From the minutes:
The Committee also discussed a range of other possible policy options including: changing the maturity of the portfolio of assets held in the Asset Purchase Facility; revisiting the earlier decision not to lower Bank Rate below 0.5%; and providing explicit guidance about the likely future path of Bank Rate beyond the information about the Committee’s judgement of the medium-term outlook for inflation contained in the Inflation Report and the MPC minutes. At the current juncture, none of these options appeared to be preferable to a policy of further asset purchases should further policy loosening be required.
How likely is each of the three? Read more