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Vince Reinhart at Morgan Stanley Expects the Fed to Start QE III

Michael Derby:

Morgan Stanley Still Expects QE3 This Year: Morgan Stanley continues to think the Federal Reserve will provide more stimulus via bond buying this year, even as improving economic data have led many in the market to think the sun may be setting on that particular strategy. “For some time, our call has been that the Federal Reserve will undertake additional balance-sheet action in the first half of 2012,” writes Vincent Reinhart, an economist with the bank and a former top-level Fed staffer. He argues it’s most likely the Fed will act to expand its balance sheet via Treasury and mortgage bond buying — in market parlance, QE3 — at either the April or June Federal Open Market Committee, and that the ultimate size of the program could tack on $500 billion to $700 billion onto what is currently a $2.9 trillion balance sheet…. Officials won’t wish to be seen starting a high-profile action in the thick of the presidential campaign. Also, he reckons growth will still be too weak, and inflation will be falling short of the Fed’s 2% target.

The recent improvement in economic news, especially on the jobs front, will increasingly be seen as a head fake, the Morgan Stanley economist said. “We share the view that the fillip to economic growth associated with a restocking of inventories is fading and that real GDP growth will slow notably in the current quarter,” Reinhart said. “Anxiety-inducing headlines that the economy is losing steam will be conducive to Fed action.”

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