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2010-09-01 20:45:00 来源：FT中文网
Fed moves towards monetary easing
The US Federal Reserve on Tuesday took a first step towards easing monetary policy, as it downgraded its view of the economic outlook amid rising fears that the US could face a “double-dip” recession.
Meeting in Washington, Fed monetary policymakers agreed to begin reinvesting proceeds from expiring mortgage-backed securities in longer-term Treasuries, thereby preventing a natural shrinking of the $2,300bn balance sheet the US central bank built up during the recession.
The move signals a significant shift in thinking at the Fed, which only a few months ago was tilting towards tightening monetary policy in order to fend off inflation as the economic recovery gathered strength.
But on Tuesday, Fed officials significantly downgraded their economic outlook, saying the “pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months”
The Fed added that the pace of the recovery was likely to be “more modest” in the near term than was anticipated.
The reinvestment of proceeds from expiring MBS does not in itself represent an easing of monetary policy, since it simply allows the size of the Fed's balance sheet to remain steady. And the decision could be reversed relatively easily by the Fed if the economy improves over the course of the next few months.
But it does signal that the bias of monetary policy has decisively shifted away from tightening towards easing – a potential precursor to large-scale asset purchases like those carried out during the financial crisis if, on the contrary, economic conditions deteriorate.
Interest rates were kept at their current target range of 0-0.25 per cent, and the Fed maintained its pledge to hold them there for an “extended period”.
Last month, Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman told Congress there was “unusual uncertainty” surrounding the US economic outlook, which has been hit by the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the sluggish pace of private-sector job creation and a persistently weak housing market. Growth in gross domestic product slowed from an annualised rate of 3.7 per cent in the first quarter to 2.4 per cent in the second quarter, and some economists are expecting it to decelerate further in late 2010.
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