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« Third Greek Bailout Package Is Finally On Deck | Main | HSBC faces £70bn capital hole, warn Hong Kong analysts »

FOMC Likely to Taper Further at Bernanke's Last Meeting

One more time. Ben Bernanke chairs his last meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, a two-day affair that winds up Wednesday. But unlike much of his eight, quite tumultuous years at the helm of the central bank, this confab should be mostly without drama.

As for substantive action, most Fed watchers expect the policy-setting panel to dial back its monthly bond purchases by another $10 billion, to $65 billion. The FOMC started its long-awaited taper of quantitative easing at the December meeting, trimming $5 billion each from its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, to their current respective monthly paces of $40 billion and $35 billion. With $10 billion in expected reductions at each of its eight meetings in 2014, the FOMC should be done with QE by the end of the year.

That leaves so-called forward guidance about the future of the federal-funds rate target as the Fed's main tool. The job market is the key. The FOMC said in December it will likely hold the funds rate target (pinned to the floor at 0-0.25% since the depths of the financial crisis in December 2008) until "well past the time the unemployment rate declines below 6½%."

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