The Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet: A Primer and Projections
40 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2012
Date Written: July 7, 2012
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.
Keywords: Federal Reserve's balance sheet, unconventional monetary policy, monetary policy implementation
JEL Classification: E52, E58, E47, E61, E02
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation