Philly Fed Chief says recession unlikely
Charles Plosser, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said Wednesday he refused to support the central bank's recent decision to buy $400 billion of longer-term Treasurys by next year. He also doesn't want to keep the target federal funds rate exceptionally low through mid-2013. "This action will not increase the size of the Fed’s balance sheet, but it will lengthen the maturity of the Fed’s holdings," Plosser said when discussion Operation Twist. "In addition, the FOMC will be reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in mortgage-backed securities rather than Treasurys. This action was intended to help support mortgage markets," he said. Plosser dissented from recent Federal Open Market Committee decisions because inflation is higher now and unemployment is lower than last fall when the Federal Reserve made plans for a second round of accomodative monetary policy. "Based on our experience with Operation Twist in the 1960s and with last year's QE2, the reduction in long-term rates from our actions in September is likely to be less than 20 basis points for the 10-year Treasury yield, which is currently only 2%. The pass-through to the rates at which consumers and businesses actually borrow is likely to be considerably less," Plosser said. He said this construction makes him skeptical the move will spur business or result in higher consumer spending since ongoing fiscal adjustments and fiscal challenges are keeping consumers on the sidelines. Despite lower than expected growth in 2011, Plosser does not foresee a double-dip on the way. He said while growth is sluggish, according to business contacts, they aren't seeing the type of declines that would warn of a coming dip. Write to Kerri Panchuk.