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2013年6月22日 (土)

FRB出口戦略 市場の混乱防ぐ舵取りが要る

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 22, 2013
Fed needed to steer policy for preventing market turmoil
FRB出口戦略 市場の混乱防ぐ舵取りが要る(6月21日付・読売社説)

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board is poised to begin scaling back by the end of the year its third round of quantitative monetary easing, a huge stimulus program known as QE3 that has helped shore up the U.S. economy.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a press conference Wednesday following a two-day meeting of the bank's monetary policy panel, the Federal Open Market Committee, revealed for the first time the central bank's “exit strategy” for normalizing its ultra-easy monetary policy.

Regarding QE3, under which the the Fed purchases Treasury and mortgage-backed bonds at a monthly pace of $85 billion (about 8.2 trillion yen), Bernanke said it would be “appropriate to moderate the monthly pace of purchases later this year...and we will continue to reduce the pace of purchases in measured steps through the first half of next year, ending purchases around mid-year,” as long as the country sustains its economic recovery.

Sign of confidence

The Fed's announcement of a policy shift toward reducing QE3 and clearly stating a goal for ending it, while predicated on the condition that the U.S. economy continues to grow as expected, received attention worldwide and is certain to have wide-ranging effects.

Ever since the financial crisis that erupted following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the U.S. central bank has carried out quantitative easing three times to end the crisis and prop up business activity.

The long-awaited launch of an exit strategy signals the central bank is ready to make a major change to policies that were aimed at coping with an emergency situation.

Bernanke’s bold remarks appear to be backed by confidence in the fundamentals of the U.S. economy, which have indicated recovery recently. He may also have thought it necessary to dispel a sense of uncertainty in the market over the future of U.S. monetary policy.

Stock prices in New York, however, tumbled on Wednesday with the Dow Jones industrial average closing more than 200 points lower than the previous day, while prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange also dropped sharply on Thursday.

These declines were largely due to a surge in investors selling shares out of fears that cash flowing into the market may dwindle.

In the wake of Bernanke’s statement, concerns will likely persist over erratic fluctuations in stock prices and foreign exchange rates in the world's markets, which will present the Fed with the knotty task of preventing market confusion.

Toward the end of last year, the Fed said it would not lift short-term interest rates from zero until the unemployment rate shrinks to 6.5 percent, while also keeping an eye on inflation. The easy-money measure has been in place since December 2008.

It is widely believed, however, that the U.S. jobless rate will not move from the current 7.6 percent to the Fed's target until 2014 at the earliest. Improvement in the U.S. employment situation has remained slow, making a full-fledged economic recovery uncertain.

Learn from U.S. challenges

Moreover, possible adverse impacts on business activities of fiscal belt-tightening by the administration of President Barack Obama cannot be underestimated.

Will the Fed be able to lift its zero interest rate policy after bringing QE3 to an end without causing market tumult? In this respect, we urge the central bank to use all the tools at its disposal to maintain a “dialogue with the market.”

The Bank of Japan, which has also implemented an extraordinary monetary easing policy, should learn from challenges the Fed is now addressing.

The BOJ needs to maintain its focus on ending deflation and resuscitating the national economy to maximize the effects of its monetary policy. But sooner or later, the central bank will need to seriously examine how it will dial back these policies.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2013)
(2013年6月21日01時20分  読売新聞)


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