It looks like the Federal Reserve is about to get back into the bond business and help the US government deal with its massive debt.
The Treasury Department announced yesterday that it will not have to borrow as much money in the third quarter of fiscal 2019 as originally anticipated. But this is not because of a slowdown in government spending. According to a Treasury official cited by Reuters, the reason for the lower borrowing estimate is due to an anticipated increase in Fed Treasury holdings as the central bank ends its balance sheet reduction program.
All of a sudden, the Federal Reserve is considering increasing its balance sheet again.
Remember back in September? QE was on “autopilot.” Then we got the “Powell Pause” and suddenly, the talk was that balance sheet reduction could be winding down. Powell confirmed that was the case just a couple of weeks ago when he told a congressional panel the central bank would be in a position to “to stop runoff later this year.”
After weeks of hinting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell confirmed that the central bank will end its balance sheet reduction program this year. This just five months after insisting quantitative tightening was on “autopilot.”
“We’ve worked out, I think, the framework of a plan that we hope to be able to announce soon that will light the way all the way to the end of balance sheet normalization,” Powell said during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.