Fed to cut bond holdings

A trader works on the floor of the NYSE in New York

There could well be a real-world impact of all this, not just in terms of how markets respond, because other assets bought by the Fed under QE include mortgage-backed securities - which, as anyone familiar with the history of the financial crisis will remember, is a bond backed by mortgages on people's homes or on commercial property.

September's meeting is key because the Federal Reserve is expected to announce plans to unwind its massive $4 trillion balance sheet - a formal process for tightening monetary policy. In fact, it appears that markets are already betting on the Fed to not follow through on its projected December rate hike.

The Fed's policymaking committee approved its action on a 9-0 vote after ending its latest meeting.

Speaking about the unanimous decision, which was made in line with wider market expectations, Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management, said such caution from the U.S. central banks was understandable given the changing composition of its current leadership, a tightening labour market and weak wage growth.

"A lot of people were thinking (the Fed) would pass in December", Silvia said. At this rate, the Fed's balance sheet would still be above $3 trillion by late 2019.

Yellen says that inflation has been below target since 2013 for a variety of factors.

The Fed views a modest level of inflation as helping to propel consumer spending and business investment.

"Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have devastated many communities, inflicting severe hardship". In October, it will start cutting $10bn per month from the amount of maturing securities it reinvests, rising to a maximum of $50bn per month until its balance sheet is reduced by more than $1trn. That figure would inch up by $10 billion each quarter until it reaches $50 billion in monthly reductions in October 2018.

Months of telegraphing by the central bank allowed for the muted market response seen on Wednesday.

Policymakers have signalled their plans for the Fed balance sheet for months in an effort to avoid rattling markets.

The question of when and how the Fed will manipulate its main policy lever - its target for short-term rates - in coming months is less clear. That's the point at which its benchmark rate is neither stimulating economic growth nor restraining it. The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR rose to 2.278 percent, briefly hitting a six-week high of 2.289 percent.

Interest rates have stayed low despite a shallow unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in August and inflation down to 1.4 percent. The Fed, though, has yet to achieve its other objective of stabilizing prices at a 2 percent annual rate.

"There is a bit of a disconnect between the market and the Fed", he said.

The committee notes that inflation rates will continue to be monitored closely, but they will not be increasing interest rates as of this time. Gary Cohn, White House National Economic Council director, was rumored to be Trump's top choice to lead the Fed, but fell out of the president's favor after criticizing his defense of white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville, Va. She reiterated Wednesday that she intends to serve out her current term, but said, "I'm really not going to comment on my intentions beyond that".

Besides Yellen, the resignation of Vice Chair Stanley Fischer later this month, could leave the Fed with four empty seats, at least until Trump nominee Randall Quarles is confirmed. "It will be up to future policy makers to decide in the event of a severe downturn whether they think it's appropriate to again resort to adding assets to a balance sheet", she said.


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