LATEST: July’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes (via Business Insider) indicate that although a few members are urging the Fed to be patient, others want to begin tapering the quantitative easing program soon. However, Chairman Ben Bernanke’s tapering timeline set forth in June was broadly supported by FOMC members. That means the Fed could indeed begin tapering the program next month.
Right after the release of the minutes, the bond market heated up with sell-offs, which pushed yields up. The equities market started to pick up as well, while the dollar started to strengthen.
Previously: We are just minutes away from the release of the July meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve. They’re set to come out at 2 p.m. Eastern. They are one of the most important events on Wall Street, and the markets have been relatively quiet leading up to the release of these minutes. That could change, however.
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Investors looking for signs of tapering
At issue all year has been the Fed’s quantitative easing or bond buying program. The central bank pumps $85 billion into the bond market every single month. The program is aimed at stimulating the U.S. economy, and Chairman Ben Bernanke has been suggesting that it could end or at least begin tapering at any time now. When that does happen, there’s likely to be a fire sale in markets around the world.
Investors have already been dumping U.S. Treasuries for the last several months. This has sent ripples throughout the equity, bond and currency markets around the globe, and those ripples could become huge waves, depending on how investors interpret what the Fed had to say in the minutes from its July meeting.
Will the Fed taper next month?
In today’s minutes, investors will specifically looking for signs that the Fed will begin tapering its quantitative easing program next month. If the central bank does expect to do that, then Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists say the minutes will include talk of exactly how this would be done.
For example, there would be mention of how much the Fed will taper and which asset it will begin tapering. Currently the Fed’s $85 billion program includes $45 billion in U.S. Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities.
Of course in July, the talk would only have been debate. Since this was last month, we won’t see any sign of resolution. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been extremely careful with his words over the last several months because just the slightest hint that tapering is imminent has sent ripples throughout world markets.
The release of July’s meeting minutes will undoubtedly be a market mover, one way or another.