The Powell Put Underneath The Financial Markets And The U.S. Economy Just Got Stronger

It quacks like quantitative easing. It walks like quantitative easing. But it’s not quantitative easing.

According to Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell anyway.

In a speech today, October 8, to the National Association for Business Economics, Powell said the Fed will resume purchases of Treasury securities in an effort to avoid a repeat of recent turmoil in money markets. This, of course is exactly what the Fed did while it pursued a policy of quantitative easing to pull the global economy out of the Great Recession.

But, Powell said in a discussion after his speech, “This is not QE.”

“I want to emphasize that growth of our balance sheet for reserve management purposes should in no way be confused with the large-scale asset purchase programs that we deployed after the financial crisis,” he said. “Neither the recent technical issues nor the purchases of Treasury bills we are contemplating to resolve them should materially affect the stance of monetary policy.”

Okay, so the Fed is going to buy Treasuries and grow its balance sheet but it doesn’t really count as quantitative easing because the purchases will be at the short maturity Treasury bill end of the market.

Like the economy cares where those extra Fed dollars flowing into the money supply are coming from. According to the CME Fed Watch Tool the odds of a 25 basis point cut to interest rates at the Fed’s October 30 meeting climbed to 86.1% today from 74.8% yesterday and 62.0% on October 1.

By the way, Powell also noted that after Fed statisticians worked through private sector jobs data the Fed believes that the most recent job gains may ultimately be revised lower, but that pace of job growth would still be above the level needed to hold unemployment steady.