Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Neel Kashkari said the Federal Reserve is likely to start a third round of quantitative easing, while BlackRock Inc.’s Robert Doll said the central bank will wait to see whether the economy weakens more.
“The economy is slowing,” Kashkari, who heads global equities at Newport Beach, California-based Pimco, said Thursday at the Bloomberg Asset Management Summit in Boston. Worsening unemployment, lower equity prices and the risk of shocks coming out of the euro region suggest the Fed will act, he said.
On Thursday, reports on inflation and jobless claims fueled speculation that the Fed will discuss stimulus efforts at its meeting next week. Jobless claims unexpectedly climbed by 6,000 to 386,000 in the week ended June 9, the Labor Department said. The U.S. economy expanded at a 1.9 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported May 31, down from its prior estimate of 2.2 percent.
Doll, who plans to retire as BlackRock’s chief equity strategist, said regulators would have to see significantly weaker economic growth or a “bust in the euro” before they act to stimulate the economy with another round of bond purchases.
“QE3 is for an emergency,” Doll said Thursday. “The Fed wants us to know there is an insurance policy if we need it,” he said.
The U.S. financial crisis four years ago spurred the Fed to revive the economy by purchasing $2.3 trillion of bonds from December 2008 to June 2011 in two rounds of a tactic called quantitative easing. The Fed is scheduled to buy as much as $2.25 billion of Treasuries today due from February 2036 to May 2042 as part of Operation Twist, a program to replace $400 billion of shorter-term securities in its holdings with longer- term bonds through this month to keep borrowing costs down.
The crisis in Europe will weigh on U.S. policy makers’ decision to further stimulate the economy, Kashkari said. It will take “years, not months” to solve as Greece exits from the euro region, Kashkari said.
Greece’s exit may not necessarily happen next week, after the country’s elections, and the outcome for markets will greatly depend on how orderly the process is, according to Kashkari.
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