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December 18th, 2013
05:53 PM ET

Economist: Fed taper is 'a toe in the water'

(CNN) - Federal Reserve officials decided Wednesday to start gradually reducing their massive economic stimulus program.

Beginning in January, the Fed will buy $75 billion in bonds each month, down from the $85 billion it had been buying since September 2012.

"This is a toe in the water," said chief economist and managing director of Mesirow Financial Diane Swonk. "The Fed didn't dive into the waters of exiting stimulus."

The Fed's taper of $10 billion per month will ensure interest rates stay low, and is "the right call," says Swonk.

Treasury and mortgage-backed security issuances have fallen since the Federal Reserve began its stimulus program a year ago, so even though the reserve is tapering, it is buying a larger proportion of those markets, says Swonk.

Also, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did an expected pivot Wednesday, signalling, "We'll leave that punch bowl out there longer than you ever thought possible, let some of you get tipsy, as long as it means this party gets going and more people on the dance floor," said Swonk.

That is, continuing the stimulus program longer than people thought possible helped to dampen the effects of tapering.

For more of our interview with economist Diane Swonk, watch the video above.

Filed under: Money Lead
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