Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Fed conducts Operation Twist

The Federal Reserve announced yesterday that it will conduct an Operation Twist or, in other words, lengthen the average maturities of the Treasuries in its portfolio from 75 to 100 months (8 1/3 years) by the end of 2012 by buying $400 billion of long-term debt (with maturities of 6-30 years) through June, while selling an equal amount of shorter-term securities maturing in 3 years or less.

In addition, the central bank will reinvest maturing mortgage debt into mortgage-backed securities instead of Treasuries in order to improve the situation in the mortgage market.

The Fed’s goal is to lower longer-term borrowing costs making financial conditions more accommodative. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) reiterated its pledge to keep the benchmark interest rate near zero until the middle of 2013 as the US suffers from high unemployment and the inflation outlook is subdued. At the same time, it’s necessary to note that the rates are already pretty low – the yields on 10-year Treasuries fell from 2011 maximum of 3.74% reached in February to 1.86%.

Analysts at Barclays Capital regard Fed’s actions as a modest step. In their view, this may be only the beginning of easing and the central bank may become more aggressive if they don’t see the economic growth improving. However, Richard Fisher, Narayana Kocherlakota and Charles Plosser – the heads of the federal banks of Dallas, Minneapolis and Philadelphia – voted against the FOMC decision for the second time in a row as they are against of additional monetary stimulus.

published by FBS Holdings © 2011