The Federal Reserve may scale back its $85 billion monthly bond purchase program later this year as the U.S. labor market outlook improves, though the exact timing for an end to the program depends on the economy.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in June that the U.S. central bank may wind down and stop its bond-buying by mid-2014, when the unemployment rate will probably be around 7 percent.
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The following are recent comments from Fed policymakers (a "V" indicates the person is a voting member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) this year):
CLEVELAND FED PRESIDENT SANDRA PIANALTO, August 7
"If the labor market remains on the stronger path that it has followed since last fall, then I would be prepared to scale back the monthly pace of asset purchases."
CHICAGO FED PRESIDENT CHARLES EVANS (V), August 6
"We are quite likely to reduce the flow of purchases rate starting later this year - I couldn't tell you exactly which month that will be - and it's likely to wind down over time in a couple or few stages." Asked whether he would rule out starting cutbacks in September, he said he "clearly" would not.
ATLANTA FED PRESIDENT DENNIS LOCKHART (V), August 6
"If we see the growth pick up in the second half and if we see a continuation of the job gains that we - not (the) 162,000 number that we saw last month but at a higher range, say 180-200,000 - I think with other fundamentals improving we probably are in a position to remove ... the extraordinary policy program over the medium term - that being the asset purchase program."
DALLAS FED PRESIDENT RICHARD FISHER, August 5
"I am of the opinion that unless we see some disturbing data ... that we should start in September."
ST LOUIS FED PRESIDENT JAMES BULLARD (V), August 2
"The chairman talked about a 7 percent ballpark figure for unemployment. He was thinking the middle of next year that we'd be around that number. The committee has not codified that or enshrined that in the statement. But as a kind of softer target, we're definitely closer to that softer target."
FEDERAL OPEN MARKET COMMITTEE STATEMENT, July 31
"The committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, but it anticipates that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term."
(Reporting by Alister Bull, Jonathan Spicer, Pedro da Costa and Ann Saphir; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and James Dalgleish)