As expected, the central bank will attempt to stimulate the economy by pushing down longer-term interest rates, but it surprised us by announcing some housing stimulus
How do you stimulate the economy without spending any money? You do the twist and shuffle. The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would engage in a new policy known as "Operation Twist," consisting of selling shorter-term Treasuries and using the proceeds to buy longer-term government bonds. This was widely expected, but it also announced a new effort to push down mortgage rates, in particular. The two-day meeting appears to have been a lively one.
The Fed's economic report was little changed from August. But since the recovery remains so anemic, the monetary policy committee decided to take action. Here's the section of the Fed's statement that everyone will be talking about:
To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with the dual mandate, the Committee decided today to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities. The Committee intends to purchase, by the end of June 2012, $400 billion of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 6 years to 30 years and to sell an equal amount of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of 3 years or less. This program should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help make broader financial conditions more accommodative. The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate.
To help support conditions in mortgage markets, the Committee will now reinvest principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. In addition, the Committee will maintain its existing policy of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.