While investors had already braced for some tapering of the $85 billion a month quantitative easing program, fears that QE would be reduced drastically were abated on Sept 16 when Larry Summers withdrew from his bid to become the new Federal Reserve Chairman. On the news of Summers’ withdraw, the Dow, the Treasury, and financials all rallied.
While Summers’ exact plans were he to become the Fed Chair were uncertain, investor perception was that he would aggressively curtail government stimulus at a much faster rate than current chair Ben Bernanke, who is set to step down in Jan. 2014.
With Summers out of the picture, current Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen is now the clear frontrunner for the position. Yellen was a vocal proponent of government stimulus, and is widely expected to continue Bernanke’s programs more or less as he would have.
As opposed to the intellectual, liberal Yellen, Summers is much more hawkish and has a reputation as a wildcard prone to “outside-the-box thinking” which tends to make investors skittish.
The Fed is expected to meet on Sept 18, where it is believed they will announce they are scaling back quantitative easing. However, the market has already prepared for a tapering in the neighborhood of $10 to $15 billion a month, and that “the tapering is (already) widely discounted,” wrote strategists at KBC Bank in Brussels.
The markets, both domestically and internationally, rallied on the news of Summers’ withdraw and the presumptive maintaining of the status quo. US Treasuries were up significantly, and the Dow neared a new all time, rising over 150 points in early trading.
Investment banks Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs Group (GS) were both up on the day, as the majority of the financial sector rose with the good tidings. Morgan Stanley gained 2.4 percent to hit $28.81 a share. Goldman was up 2.07 percent to hit $167.40 a share.