Taken from DSNEWS.com

By: Carrie Bay


The Federal Reserve decided Wednesday to pump another $600 billion into the economy in the hopes of bolstering what it called a “disappointingly slow” recovery.

The capital injection will come in the form of purchases of long-term Treasury securities by the central bank, about $75 billion a month between now and the end of June 2011.

Fed officials said they also plan to continue reinvesting principal payments from existing securities holdings. According to a separate announcement put out by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – essentially the central bank’s money manager – these reinvestments will amount to another $250 billion to $300 billion in Treasury bond purchases over the same period.

The goal is to buoy economic growth by keeping interest rates low. By throwing more money into the financial system, the Federal Reserve is hoping banks will lend more, allowing consumers to purchase a home or refinance their mortgages and giving businesses the capital they need to grow their operations.

If it plays out correctly, the move is expected to spur spending, foster job creation, and keep deflation in check.

The analysts at the international research firm Capital Economics say they don’t expect lower long-term interest rates to do much to stimulate demand in the wider economy.

Paul Ashworth, a senior U.S. economist with the firm, explained, “Half of all mortgage borrowers don’t qualify to refinance at lower rates because they don’t have enough equity in their homes. Larger businesses are already sitting on stockpiled cash, while small businesses dependent on banks for their credit can’t get loans at any cost.”

Ashworth added, “When the Fed realizes that QE2 [its second round of quantitative easing] isn’t working it will have two choices: Admit this is a lost cause and halt its purchases or increase the size of its purchases. We suspect the Fed would double-down rather than fold.”

This marks the second big bond-buying spree by the central bank since the recession took hold. From November 2008 to March of this year, the Fed bought up $1.7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS), debt from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Treasury bonds.

That effort succeeded in pushing mortgage interest rates to extreme lows, but even that hasn’t been enough to boost housing demand. Even after the Fed’s bond buying initiative ended in the spring, mortgage rates continued to drop, hitting lows not seen in more than 60 years.

The Federal Reserve said in its policy statement released Wednesday that information received since its last meeting in September “confirms that the pace of recovery in output and employment continues to be slow.”

Household spending is increasing only gradually, and remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit, the central bank said.

The Fed committee voted to maintain the target range at 0 to 0.25 percent for its benchmark federal funds rate – the rate at which banks lend to one another. As it has reiterated for months on end now, the central bank said it anticipated economic conditions will warrant “exceptionally low levels” for the federal funds rate “for an extended period.”


Randy Dockery