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Fed’s Bullard: Higher QE Taper Odds as Labor Market Improves

Bloomberg (12/10/13) Steve Matthews; Aki Ito

James Bullard, president of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, says the central bank is likely to pull back on its bond purchases due to improvements in the labor market, but because inflation remains too low, he expects a modest reduction. “A small taper might recognize labor-market improvement while still providing the committee the opportunity to carefully monitor inflation during the first half of 2014,” he says. “Should inflation not return toward target, the committee could pause tapering at subsequent meetings.”

According to a Dec. 6 survey of economists by Bloomberg, 34% of those polled expect the Federal Open Market Committee to scale back bond purchases at its Dec. 17-18 meeting instead of in January or March. Bullard says, “If you did taper here in December, it would acknowledge that labor market data has been stronger than expected. The committee should do something to acknowledge the progress that has been made in labor markets.”