I find it rather fascinating to see the depths of denial that some will sink to when it comes to taking the Federal Reserve's clearly announced intentions to wind down its final Quantitative Easing program. You might recall that this last of their QE's was originally in the amount of purchases of both Treasuries and MBS (Mortgage Backed Securities) debt to the tune of $85 billion/month.
The chart I put together should hopefully dispel the rather foolish talk from some as referenced above and help objective and open-minded observers understand where the Fed is in its intent to bring this program to an end.
The chart details the Rate of Growth/Decline in the "Securities Held Outright" portion of the Federal Reserve Balance Sheet. For all practical purposes, this might as well be considered the total Balance Sheet ( the other items that are involved are dwarfed by comparison ) but that is another matter. Suffice it to say, one can easily tell the start up and the decline or winding down of the various QE episodes that have been in place since the Credit Crisis of 2008 and the Fed's response to that.
The data is constructed by creating a look-back period of 52 weeks and noting the percent change of the current week to the same exact week exactly one year previous. By looking at the data in this manner, we can get a very good view of how the Fed was responding to the lock up of the Credit markets and its determination to be a buyer of last resort of both MBS's ( mortgage backed securities) and Treasuries.
One can see the amazing surge in the 2009 as QEI was undertaken. Then we would see the end of a QE program, and the implementation of the next. The RATE OF INCREASE in the Fed's Balance sheet can easily be noted.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year and the Fed's announced intentions of a "TAPERING" of its final bond buying program with the intent to end it sometime this year.
Note well that the Fed did not say it was going to stop buying both Treasuries and MBS debt when it first began making the markets aware of its timetable to end QE4. It announced that, depending on the economic data, it would begin to scale back those purchases ( roughly $10 billion each month) until it ended them altogether.
Thus while its balance sheet continues to grow, the RATE OF GROWTH, year over year, is definitely declining. Indeed the Fed is tapering just as it said it would.
Just for comparison sake, here is a chart of the overall Fed Balance Sheet ( Securities ) so that the reader can see the growth. It is rather remarkable is it not? Even in this view, one can see the leveling off of the line over at the far right hand side. Their purchases are slowing down.
The reason for this short set of comments and charts is simple - there are those in the gold permabull camp who continue to deny that the Federal Reserve is tapering and preparing to end its QE programs. We will let the reader decide from the data whether their claim has any merit. I for one reject their specious assertions.
Now, it is going to be an entirely different matter if the Fed chooses to actually REDUCE the size of their balance sheet. That is going to be an interesting education we will all receive when once that happens, if at all. For all that one knows, they could simply choose to hold the securities (Treasuries and MBS debt) until they mature and return any interest earned to the Treasury.
"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat
Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput
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