Tags: Zandi | QE | elections | growth

Moody's Zandi: More QE Will Come, But After the Elections

Thursday, 30 Aug 2012 07:58 AM

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The Federal Reserve will likely roll out a third round of quantitative easing (QE) to stimulate the economy, but probably after the elections, when fiscal issues will threaten to slow an already tepid recovery, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

After that, the economy will hit its stride and really pick up the pace, especially in 2014.

QE is a stimulus tool under which the Fed buys assets like Treasury holdings or mortgage-backed securities held by banks, pumping the economy full of fresh liquidity to drive down interest rates and encourage investing.

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

Market talk has said the Fed might announce a new round of QE this Friday at the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., or at a scheduled meeting shortly afterward in September.

It won’t come that quickly, but it is coming, Zandi said, citing as an example the recently released minutes from the Fed’s July 31 meeting, where members said they would likely intervene unless the economy shows marked improvement, which hasn’t happened.

“The Federal Reserve members were quite clear that the economy is going to have to improve for them not to QE. So we’re going to have to see stronger growth, more jobs, unemployment moving south in a very consistent way,” Zandi told CNBC.

“If we don’t see that, then we are going to get more QE. Given all the fiscal issues we have, my sense is that we’re probably getting another round of QE. It won’t be in September, but it will be after the election when we’re dealing with our fiscal problems late this year or early next,” Zandi added.

At the end of the year, tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the same time automatic public spending cuts kick in, a combination known as a fiscal cliff that could send the economy sliding into a recession if left unchecked by Congress.

Even if Congress does steer the country away from the cliff after elections or in early 2013 on a retroactive basis, expect uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff to keep businesses putting off capital spending and hiring, which could threaten recovery.

“The key news is that the Federal Reserve is all in and they are going to QE until the economy is moving north in to a consistent way.”

Since the downturn, the Fed has rolled out two rounds of QE, with a first round involving the purchase of $1.7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities from banks just after the 2008 financial crisis and a second round in 2011, which involved the purchase of $600 billion in Treasury holdings.

Today, however, unemployment rates refuse to budge below 8 percent, while growth remains tepid — the government recently revised its second-quarter gross domestic product growth rate to 1.7 percent from 1.5 percent, not enough to absorb the country’s unemployed and discouraged workers.

Still, once the fiscal cliff is addressed, the United States will enjoy a bright future.

“We nail down those fiscal issues and these good fundamentals will start to shine through,” Zandi said, adding that he expected the economy to grow 4 percent in 2014.

“By 2014-15, the surprise is going to be how strong the economy is growing.”

Some Fed officials have said the time has come for an open-ended round of easing, meaning the Fed should intervene for as long as it takes and not announce a fixed amount of assets it plans to purchase, as was the case with the first two rounds

Without such accommodative monetary policy, unemployment rates will hover around current levels of 8.3 percent, said Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans.

“I don’t think we should be in a mode where we are waiting to see what the next few data releases bring,” Evans told a seminar at the Hong Kong Bankers Club, according to Reuters.

“We are well past the threshold for additional action; we should take that action now.”

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


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