Here's why the Fed won't announce tapering this week

Here's why the Fed won't announce tapering this week

Posted: Sep 21, 2021 12:00 PM
Updated: Sep 21, 2021 12:00 PM

The Federal Reserve is unlikely to take its foot off the stimulus gas pedal this week as the recovery has run into some roadblocks.

Most notably: the Delta variant.

Mere weeks ago, investors were convinced the central bank would announce a tapering of its massive pandemic stimulus program at its September meeting, which began Tuesday. But some somber economic data, including a very disappointing jobs report and changes in consumer sentiment on the back of rising Covid-19 cases, have pushed back expectations for the taper timeline.

"Given the uncertainty about the pandemic, fiscal policy and economic data, it seems unlikely that they will make any significant announcement," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.

The Fed's next policy update comes out Wednesday at 2pm ET, followed by a press conference with Chairman Jerome Powell at 2:30 pm ET.

Kelly expects the central bank to announce a stimulus rollback in November that would start in December.

The Fed currently buys $120 billion worth of assets every month — $80 billion in Treasury securities and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

The idea behind cutting back the purchases was that the economy wouldn't need this kind of stimulus given that the recovery was chugging along on its own. The labor market was improving at a fast pace over most of the summer and inflation spiked to a 13-year high, signaling there might be too much stimulus in the system.

The Fed kept saying the high inflation will be temporary, but it also hinted it might soon cut back on its monthly buying spree. Recently, consumer price inflation has come off its peak. Yet it remains at an uncomfortably high level compared to pre-pandemic times.

Taper tantrum?

Meanwhile this week's stock market selloff, spurred by the Chinese real estate developer Evergrande's debt crisis and worries about the US debt ceiling, make it difficult to imagine the Fed would double down on bad news for the market. There's no doubt Powell will get a lot of questions about his assessment of both issues at Wednesday's press conference.

The US stock market recovered swiftly from the market crash at the start of the pandemic thanks to the sugar rush of stimulus money from the government and the Fed. But stocks would likely take a hit if the money taps were turned off.

This expectation has brought back unpleasant memories of the 2013 "taper tantrum," when financial and, specifically, bond markets panicked about the Fed's decision to wind down 2008 crisis-era stimulus. Analysts expect Powell will choose his words very carefully Wednesday when communicating any changes to the market.

The-CNN-Wire
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