Capital Economics sees QE3, slow growth ahead
A third round of economic stimulus through the purchase of mortgage-backed securities could very well be in the Federal Reserve's arsenal for 2012, Paul Ashworth and Paul Dales said in their latest Capital Economics report. It's not the first time QE3 has been called for in 2012. In fact, French investment bank Société Générale forecast the possibility of a new program being announced as early as this month. The bank said buying and selling could begin as early as March. Dales and Ashworth said the central bank's push for additional transparency by publishing its own projections for the fed funds target rate in the quarterly summary of economic projections is a major breakthrough in terms of Fed openness. Still, they said the move is unlikely to serve as a major catalyst for allowing the Fed to improve its influence over market expectations, as well as short-term and long-term rates. "It's no surprise that Bernanke is ramping up his attempts to make the Fed more transparent at a time when the unemployment rate is still painfully high and interest rates are more or less at zero," they said. "Although the Fed hasn't said as much, there is little doubt that it hopes that announcing its own expectations for the path of interest rates over the next few years will provide it with a greater capacity to influence markets’ expectations and consequently both short-term and long-term rates." Capital Economics notes the minutes of the latest Fed meeting suggest as much with certain members indicating market conditions may warrant additional Fed stimulus in the future. However, Dales and Ashworth concluded that Fed openness and QE3 are unlikely to stave off or significantly transform what they expect to be another few years of low growth and high unemployment. Write to Kerri Panchuk.