WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve has already begun to put the super-easy monetary policies of the last five years behind it, Fed vice chair nominee Stanley Fischer told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday.
“I think the exit is beginning, or has begun,” Fischer told members of the Senate banking committee. “The extent of the purchases of the Fed, the monthly amount that is being purchased, is being reduced, and conditions for the continuation of that have been described.”
The Fed has kept interest rates near zero for more than five years, and bought trillions of dollars in Treasuries and housing-backed securities to push down long-term borrowing costs and rev up the economy.
In December it began to trim these monthly purchases of securities, and Fed officials have said they expect to wind the program down later this year as long as the economy continues to improve.
When then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke first hinted last May that the bond-buying program would be drawn to a close, markets swooned in response.
“When the actual tapering began, it had a much more stable impact,” Fischer said. “And that seems to be continuing.”