Federal Reserve officials discussed reducing the U.S. central bank’s bond holdings by as much as $95 billion a month, in an effort to slow the highest inflation in nearly four decades, according to minutes released Wednesday of a meeting last month.
“All participants agreed that elevated inflation and tight labor market conditions warranted commencement of balance sheet runoff at a coming meeting, with a faster pace of decline in securities holdings than over the 2017-19 period,” members of the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) said.
“Participants generally agreed that monthly caps of about $60 billion for Treasury securities and about $35 billion for agency MBS would likely be appropriate,” according to the minutes of the March 15-16 meeting.
In the 2017-19 period, when the Fed last attempted to shrink its balance sheet, the maximum reduction was capped at $50 billion, significantly lower than what the central bank is signaling this year.
With the release of the minutes this month, the Fed is laying the groundwork for its upcoming meeting on May 4-5, signaling traders what to expect in the coming months, which is why the impact of the central bank’s decisions can already be seen now.
U.S. stocks were already down ahead of the meeting, after several Fed officials hinted at what was discussed in the minutes.
Bitcoin (BTC) is down 5% over the last 24 hours.
The minutes also revealed that while the central bank announced it would raise interest rates by 25 basis points (0.25 percentage point) at the two-day March meeting, “many” members of the FOMC initially wanted to go for a half percentage point hike. They settled on a quarter-point hike partly because of the the uncertainty associated with the war in Ukraine.