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The Federal Reserve's balance sheet: a primer and projections

Author

Listed:
  • Seth B. Carpenter
  • Jane E. Ihrig
  • Elizabeth C. Klee
  • Alexander H. Boote
  • Daniel W. Quinn

Abstract

Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve's use of unconventional monetary policy tools has led it to hold a large portfolio of securities. The securities holdings in excess of historical norms have been shown to be putting downward pressure on longer-term interest rates. One question asked is how long this unusual amount of monetary policy accommodation will be in place. Here we provide projections of the evolution of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet that are consistent with public economic forecasts and announced Federal Open Market Committee policy principles to help answer this question. We begin with a primer on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet. Then, with the foundational concepts in place, we present a framework for projecting Federal Reserve assets and liabilities through time. In the projections, the Federal Reserve's balance sheet remains large by historical standards for several years. Our baseline projection suggests that market participants likely do not expect the Federal Reserve's portfolio to return to a more normal size until August 2017, and its composition to return to normal until September 2018. Overall, this suggests that market participants believe that unconventional monetary policy will be in place for some time, likely depressing longer-term interest rates for a number of years.

Suggested Citation

  • Seth B. Carpenter & Jane E. Ihrig & Elizabeth C. Klee & Alexander H. Boote & Daniel W. Quinn, 2012. "The Federal Reserve's balance sheet: a primer and projections," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-56, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2012-56
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    Cited by:

    1. Adrien Alvero & Andreas M. Fischer, 2016. "Exchange rate floor and central bank balance sheets: Simple spillover tests of the Swiss franc," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 67(02), pages 31-50, August.
    2. Marquez, Jaime & Morse, Ari & Schlusche, Bernd, 2013. "The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet and overnight interest rates: Empirical modeling of exit strategies," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5300-5315.

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