“Federal Reserve officials have mapped out a strategy for winding down an unprecedented $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program meant to spur the economy—an effort to preserve flexibility and manage highly unpredictable market expectations.
“Officials say they plan to reduce the amount of bonds they buy in careful and potentially halting steps, varying their purchases as their confidence about the job market and inflation evolves. The timing on when to start is still being debated.
“The Fed’s strategy for how and when to wind down the program is of intense interest in financial markets. While the strategy being debated leaves the Fed plenty of flexibility, it might not be the clear and steady path markets expect based on past experience.
“Officials are focusing on clarifying the strategy so markets don’t overreact about their next moves. For example, officials want to avoid creating expectations that their retreat will be a steady, uniform process like their approach from 2003 to 2006, when they raised short-term interest rates in a series of quarter-percentage-point increments over 17 straight policy meetings.”
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