US Fed officials consider ending asset purchases by 2022


US Federal Reserve officials are nearing an agreement to begin tapering its asset purchase program in about three months and end the program by the middle of next year, local media reported.

A recent run of strong US hiring reports have strengthened the case for the Fed to announce at its next meeting in September its intentions to start tapering, potentially as soon as its following meeting in November, Xinhua news agency quoted The Wall Street Journal as saying on Monday.

Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren told the newspaper that he expected to see enough job growth to meet the criteria for reducing asset purchases by the Fed’s September 21-22 meeting.

“That would set up some time this fall a possible tapering that is dependent on the Delta variant and other variants not slowing down the labour market substantially,” Rosengren was quoted as saying, adding he hoped the Fed would end asset purchases by the middle of next year if strong economic growth continues.

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan told CNBC that the Fed should announce a plan for tapering its asset purchases in September and start tapering in October.

The process of tapering should take about eight months, he added.

However, some other Fed officials have argued for more patience.

Fed Governor Lael Brainard indicated last month she wanted to see September hiring data, which won’t be available until early October, before deciding. That would hold off any tapering until no sooner than the central bank’s November 2-3 meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal report.

The Fed has pledged to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the record-low level of near zero, while continuing its asset purchase program at least at the current pace of $120 billion per month until “substantial further progress” has been made on employment and inflation.

On Wednesday, the Fed is set to release minutes of its July policy meeting that could provide further clues about Fed officials’ discussions over tapering asset purchases.