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Ever since former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced the tapering of the Fed's current bond-buying program in December, the release of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes have been unsurprising and awash in technical central-banker jargon.
It's followed the same pattern each time: the Fed will have its meetings, release a statement, and then three weeks later they will release the minutes of that meeting as per Fed protocol.
Typically, it does little but reinforce what is already known. We know interest rates will be low for a "considerable" period, we know the end of the two-year bond-buying program known as the third round of quantitative easing (QE3) will end this month, and we know current chairwoman Janet Yellen is going couch this all in complex Fedspeak.
And while these minutes may not reveal anything new to Fed observers, the nation's central bank is at a crucial moment.
In Sept. 2012, Bernanke first announced that to help a slow-growth, post-recession economy, the Fed would loosen its already accommodative monetary policy by undergoing QE3.
QE3 was a program where the central bank would buy up $45 billion dollars in long-term U.S. Treasury debt, and $40 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities, to help push down long-term interest rates and hopefully kick the economy into gear.
The combined $85 billion-a-month regimen continued until Dec. 2013, when Bernanke first announced the taper. The Fed planned to trim the program by $10 billion – $5 billion in Treasurys, and $5 billion in MBS – so that the monthly purchases would fall to a pace of $75 billion a month.
With each Fed meeting to follow, another $10 billion was cut, at the judgment of the Fed who saw the shrinking unemployment numbers as an indication that the economy was picking up steam.
When Yellen stepped in earlier in the year, she continued the pace of the taper, and minutes from earlier meetings revealed that the last $15 billion would be cut at the end of the October meeting.
Here's why these minutes are important, if for no other reason than the timing of them…