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Rosengren, Eric on 2017 April 19 at 12:30

By initially retiring only a small percentage of maturing securities, and then very gradually shrinking the volume of the securities being reinvested, the tightening of short-term interest rates should not need to be much different than it would be in the absence of shrinking the balance sheet.

Many observers suggest that central banks’ use of their balance sheets should be limited solely as a response to the type of severe economic conditions that occurred during the financial crisis and in its aftermath. Others suggest – as I will today – that structural changes in the macroeconomy may necessitate more frequent use of large scale asset purchases during recessions… Low equilibrium rates would have noteworthy implications in a downturn… [A] 3 percent federal funds rate would imply a high probability that short-term interest rates would have to be lowered again to zero in response to future recessions. As a result, the central bank may need to again deploy its balance sheet to augment traditional policy, spur economic activity, and achieve its mandates from Congress associated with employment and price stability. One important implication, then, is that the exit from a large balance sheet may not prove to be a one-time event. So if done appropriately, the exit from the current large balance sheet can serve as an important “playbook” for future recovery periods should it prove necessary. To preview my argument a bit, while the FOMC is still carefully considering its balance sheet exit strategy, in my own view an ideal policy would take a very gradual approach to balance-sheet reduction. In my view that process could begin relatively soon and should not significantly alter the FOMC’s continuing gradual normalization of short-term interest rates. That is, by initially retiring only a small percentage of maturing securities, and then very gradually shrinking the volume of the securities being reinvested, the tightening of short-term interest rates should not need to be much different than it would be in the absence of shrinking the balance sheet. Rosengren, Eric

Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference on the State of the U.S. and World Economies

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