Today's FOMC Meeting Statement - The Fed Defines "Autumn"
We suppose the biggest news from today's FOMC meeting statement is that it put a time (sort of) certain on the end of its Treasury coupon buying binge - October. In the June 24 policy statement, the FOMC said that the Treasury coupon purchase program would wrap-up in the "autumn." In effect, the Fed is stretching out the "weaning" period before it makes the market fend completely for itself in finding buyers for Treasury coupons in as much as the current pace of Fed purchases would have exhausted its allotment prior to October. One might argue that the longer the Fed keeps the buying program in place, the more latitude it might have in increasing the size of the program. Along with the consensus view (did you expect anything different from the Fed?), the FOMC is a bit more optimistic about the near-term economic environment, changing its language to "economic activity is leveling out" from the June 24 meeting's "the pace of economic contraction is slowing." But not to get too exuberant about the outlook, the FOMC commented that household spending would be constrained by "sluggish income growth," in addition to the other constraining factors mentioned in the June 24 statement - "ongoing job losses, lower household wealth, and tight credit." With the FOMC expecting "that inflation will remain subdued for some time" and anticipating that "economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period," it is obvious that it has no intention of hiking the federal funds rate target between now and September 22-23, the next scheduled Committee meeting. Given our current view that the recovery is going to be subdued and uneven over the next several quarters, we do not expect any funds rate increases from the FOMC until June 2010, at the earliest.