July 29, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve will likely reduce its monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries simultaneously when it is time to pare back its support for the U.S. economy, though policymakers are debating whether to wind down the buying of MBS at a faster pace, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday.

Some U.S. central bank policymakers have said they want to end their monthly $40 billion of MBS purchases faster than the $80 billion in Treasuries because of the hot U.S. housing market.

“There really is little support for the idea of tapering MBS earlier than Treasuries. I think we will taper them at the same time,” Powell said in a news conference after a two-day policy meeting that marked the Fed’s first “deep dive” into when and how it could start reducing its asset purchases.

“The idea of reducing MBS purchases at a somewhat faster pace than Treasuries does have some attraction for some people – others not so much,” he added. “I think it’s something that we’ll be continuing to discuss.”

A Fed decision to cut its purchases of both Treasuries and MBS simultaneously would show that the central bank is probably following the same playbook it used when it began tapering its asset purchases in 2014, said Tom Garretson, senior portfolio strategist at RBC Wealth Management.

“To change the approach from the last cycle would muddy the messaging and there’s no benefit to it,” Garretson said. “The market expectation was that they would go at the same time.”

(Reporting by Howard Schneider and Ann Saphir with David Randall in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Paul Simao)