The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced that it will launch a fourth round of quantitative easing (“QE4”), this time committing $45 billion a month to the purchase of long-term Treasury securities.
You know what this means, right? It means that along with Washington's open-ended $40 billion a month program to buy up mortgage backed securities (“QE3”), total monthly bond purchases by the Fed will amount to $85 billion.
Yes, that's $85 billion a month.
This latest initiative by the Fed is designed to replace “Operation Twist,” a program designed to “twist” long-term rates lower relative to short-term rates, which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
But here’s where it gets really interesting [emphasis added]:
In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored. The Committee views these thresholds as consistent with its earlier date-based guidance. In determining how long to maintain a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy.
Get that? There’s no calendar date set for when the Fed plans on calling it quits. They're going to keep rates low and keep purchasing bonds until unemployment hits 6.5 percent.
That’s why we’re going to call it “QE4-Ever.”
“Bernanke’s biggest surprise came in terms of the Fed’s forward guidance. The [Federal Open Market Committee] moved from a calendar-based guidance to one tied to economic factors,” writes Agustino Fontevecchia for Forbes.
“While QE4 was widely expected, the Fed’s move to a new type of guidance came as a surprise,” he adds.
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Featured image courtesy Getty Images. This story has been updated.