Just stop! Investors want the Fed to quit buying bonds now – Reuters

March 5, 2022 By admin

The BlackRock logo is pictured outside their headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., May 25, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
NEW YORK, Feb 10 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve should stop buying bonds immediately to contain rampant inflation, a top investment manager at BlackRock (BLK.N) said on Thursday, joining a chorus of Wall Street heavy hitters and investors who have been calling for swifter Fed action to contain rising prices.
U.S. consumer prices rose solidly in January, leading to the biggest annual increase in inflation in 40 years and fueling market expectations that the Fed may increase rates more aggressively than anticipated to cool the economy. read more
As it seeks to contain inflation, the U.S. central bank also plans to reduce its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet, which grew in size during the COVID-19 pandemic as the Fed bought bonds in the market to support the economy.
After the pandemic-triggered recession, the Fed was buying $120 billion in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities each month. While it has reduced that amount, it is still making purchases. At the latest meeting, the Fed said that beginning February it would increase holdings of Treasury securities by at least $20 billion a month and mortgage backed securities by at least $10 billion a month, and would bring those purchases to an end in early March.
"The Fed is still infusing the system with QE through the middle part of March", said Rick Rieder, BlackRock’s Chief Investment Officer of Global Fixed Income, referring to quantitative easing – the Fed's bond-buying programme.
"The Fed needs to react and address today’s high levels of inflation and end QE now," Rieder said in a note, after the publication on Thursday of higher-than-anticipated January inflation data.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield hit 2% on Thursday for the first time since August 2019 after the inflation reading.
Morgan Stanley (MS.N) Chief Executive James Gorman said in December the Fed should have moved "quicker rather than later" in the transition to a rising interest-rate environment. read more
Wells Fargo Chief Executive Charlie Scharf also said that month the Fed needed to potentially move quicker to address inflation concerns. read more
Investors have voiced similar concerns regarding the Fed's speed of action.
Kelsey Berro, fixed income portfolio manager at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said she was hoping the Fed would end quantitative easing earlier than March.
"Because what's the point? We all know that the economy doesn't need QE anymore and ending it a month early to clear the way for a rate hike in March just makes a lot more sense".
For Sonal Desai, chief investment officer of Franklin Templeton Fixed Income, the Fed missed an opportunity in January when it announced plans to hike rates and reduce its balance sheet while continuing to buy bonds until March.
"They continue to expand that balance sheet after acknowledging that they don't need to do this anymore", she told Reuters last month.
"They recognise inflation is a problem, however, they're still going to expand monetary policy… to me that seems internally inconsistent", she added.
While the Fed's response to the pandemic has been "heroic", Rieder said, it was now time to move swiftly to a neutral policy stance, avoiding at the same time a too restrictive tightening of monetary policies.
"We think policy needs to adjust quickly, but not necessarily too much in total amount as the Fed weighs data over time, since this would create significant risk for markets and the economy", he said.
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