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2013年8月 3日 (土)

米金融緩和策 縮小へ問われる「市場との対話」

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 3, 2013
Fed must cleverly pursue exit from quantitative easing policy
米金融緩和策 縮小へ問われる「市場との対話」(8月2日付・読売社説)

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board has been assessing the appropriate timing for an exit strategy to scale back the current phase three of its quantitative monetary easing policy, known as QE3.

What should the U.S. central bank do to begin tapering off the QE policies as soon as September without wreaking havoc on the market? The Fed is certain to tread a thorny path going forward in steering its monetary policy.

A two-day meeting of the Fed’s policy-making Federal Open Market Committee was held Tuesday and Wednesday. During the meeting, a decision was made to continue QE3, which entails purchasing Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $85 billion (about 8.3 trillion yen) a month and a near-zero interbank interest rate policy.

Chairman Ben Bernanke announced in June the central bank’s plan for an exit strategy to start slowing down the pace of bond purchases “later this year,” contingent upon ongoing positive economic data. Specifically, he said bond buying could wrap up “by mid-2014.”

Market players were closely watching the latest policy meeting to see whether the Fed would solidify further steps for scaling back the bond-buying program. The FOMC statement that was released on Wednesday, however, did not mention anything of the sort, instead saying the committee “is prepared to increase or reduce the pace” of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation. As for the commercial sector, the Fed slightly downgraded its economic outlook for the United States.

In response to heightened speculation that the central bank may start backing off of QE3 in September, Bernanke said “there is no preset course” for ending the Fed’s bond buying. He added, “Highly accommodative monetary policy for the foreseeable future is what’s needed” for the U.S. economy.

Caution promotes stability

Based on the latest FMOC statement and a series of remarks by the Fed chairman, it seems the U.S. central bank wants to prevent volatile market reactions yet maintain the flexibility to gradually curtail its ultraeasy monetary policy.

Stock prices on the New York exchange have been stable, with market players likely reacting favorably to the Fed’s cautious stance on implementing its exit strategy, which they see as conducive to stimulating business activity.

Given the circumstances, theories have begun emerging about the winding down of QE3 being postponed beyond the middle of next year.

The Fed’s decision on when to scale back quantitative monetary easing will largely depend on the near-term outlook for the U.S. economy, which is still short of achieving a full-scale recovery.

A preliminary report on the United States’ inflation-adjusted gross national product for the April to June period showed an annualized 1.7 percent rise from the previous quarter. The positive figure was due mainly to such factors as strengthening of the housing sector and corporate capital investment in addition to robust personal spending.

While the U.S. economy’s modest pace of expansion is encouraging, the national growth estimate for the January-March quarter was sharply revised downward to a 1.1 percent annual rate from the previously estimated 1.8 percent. It seems the economic prospects of the United States in and after the last half of 2013 remain uncertain.

The fact that the U.S. labor market is still strained is worrying, as a rise in personal consumption is a prerequisite for comprehensive economic recovery.

The Fed also takes issue with the country’s persistent annual inflation rate of about 1 percent, a rate significantly below the FOMC’s long-run objective of 2 percent inflation.

Foreign markets have become increasingly susceptible to developments in U.S. monetary policy. Some observers have expressed anxiety that the winding down of QE3 could cause an outflow of cash from emerging economies.

Now is the time for the Fed to exercise its ingenuity to help stabilize the global economy by exploring means of further communication with the market.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 2, 2013)
(2013年8月2日01時36分  読売新聞)


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