Tags: Goldman | Hatzius | Fed | Easing

Goldman's Hatzius Sees 50% Chance of Fed Easing

Saturday, 08 Sep 2012 11:42 AM

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The dismal August jobs report that showed the economy added only 96,000 jobs ups the chances of fresh Federal Reserve stimulus measures to over 50 percent, said Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs.

Many analysts were expecting the economy to add about 125,000 jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised July's figures down to 141,000 from 163,000, and cut June's figures to 45,000 from 64,000, further stoking market calls for Fed intervention.

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

The Federal Reserve will hold a monetary policy meeting Sept. 12-13 and will likely agree to stimulate the economy, likely by purchasing bonds held by banks, a monetary policy tool known as quantitative easing (QE) that pumps liquidity into the financial system in a way that pushes down interest rates to spur recovery.

“I think the probability that that easing action includes not just language about the funds rate, but also asset purchases, QE, is now solidly above 50 percent,” Hatzius told CNBC.

The Fed has rolled out two rounds of quantitative easing since the 2008 financial meltdown, injecting a combined $2.3 trillion into the economy via purchasing assets like Treasury holdings or mortgage-backed securities held by banks.

A third round may prevent further economic decline but it won't likely jolt the economy as much as it needs since the stimulus tool by its nature carries diminishing returns.

“We have to realistic about the extent to which it’s going to help,” Hatzius said.

“There aren’t a lot of instruments on the table that would really make a major difference. So the Fed is looking for things that help at the margin.”

Other economists agree that the Fed will act in wake of the poor jobs numbers, likely through a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) or by extending the language it uses to forecast how long conditions will last that merit exceptionally low interest rates.

The Fed currently says such conditions will last through the end of 2014.

"This number all but guarantees the Fed will extend the low rate guidance at next week's policy meeting," said Eric Stein, vice president and portfolio manager at Eaton Vance Investment Managers in Boston, according to Reuters.

"It also makes QE3 a lot more likely, but certainly not guaranteed at the next meeting as they may just do it later in the year."

Editor's Note:
Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

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