The Federal Reserve’s ultra loose monetary policies have to reach a sunset phase at some point.
The only problem is no one knows when that will occur or if the nation will be economically strong enough in the coming years for the central bank to completely remove itself from actions deployed after the financial crisis.
Those are the sentiments of Paul Dales, an economist with Capital Economics, who wrote this week that he tentatively forecasts a tapering of the Fed’s MBS purchases in September, along with an end of quantitative easing by next June and the Fed's first rate hike in March 2015.
From that point on, it will take another two years for the Fed to start selling off Treasuries, he added.
But Dales’ timeline is contingent on the economy. If the nation recovers faster than expected, the Fed’s exit could come sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, if the economy hits another rough patch, an exit could take much longer.
There are other factors to consider as well.
Congress could intervene, trying to strip the Fed of its powers due to concerns about the central bank in recent years, Dales explained.
Furthermore, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to leave when his term expires in January, creating a situation where a new Fed chair could end up shaking up Fed policy.
Either way, Dales says the risk of a policy mistake is high in today’s volatile economy.
"The danger may be that over the next five years, policy is too loose," he added.