The Fed is slowly revealing how it plans to tighten monetary policy. Jon Hilsenrath writes:
When the Fed is ready to tap the brakes, it plans to raise the rate paid on excess reserves, according to Fed officials in interviews and recent speeches. The higher rate would entice banks to tie up money they otherwise might lend to customers or other banks. The Fed expects such a maneuver to pull up other key short-term rates, including the federal-funds rate at which banks lend to each other overnight—long the main tool for steering the economy.
“If the [Fed] were to raise the interest rate paid on excess reserves, this would raise the price of credit,” New York Fed President William Dudley said in a December speech. “That, in turn, would limit the demand for credit.”
In response to the worst financial crisis in decades, the Fed took extraordinary action to prevent an even deeper recession— pushing short-term interest rates to zero and printing trillions of dollars to lower long-term rates. Extricating itself from these actions will require both skill and luck: If the Fed moves too fast, it could provoke a new economic downturn; if it waits too long, it could unleash inflation, and if it moves clumsily it could unsettle markets in ways that disrupt the nascent economic recovery. Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues are attempting to explain—both to markets and the public—that the Fed has an exit strategy in the works in order to bolster confidence in its ability to steer the economy.
Read the whole thing from WSJ here.