Fed Hawks Are 'Irritant,' Ignore Them: Economist
Federal Reserve hawks who hope for an early end to ultra-easy monetary policy are an "irritant" and should be ignored, an economist said on Wednesday, ahead of the Fed's release of minutes from its March Open Market Committee meeting.
"The minutes will surely tell us, again, that several FOMC (Federal Reserve Open Market Committee) members are unhappy with the open-ended nature of quantitative easing and would like to slow or even stop asset purchases immediately. We hope markets have learned by now that this means nothing," Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisors, said in a research note on Wednesday.
"The hawks are an irritant, not drivers of policy."
(Read More: Fed's Dovish Contingent Will Coo Louder Than Hawks)
Under its current quantitative easing program, the Fed purchases $85 billion in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities each month. Although the FOMC voted to continue these stimulus measures at its March meeting, previous minutes have shown that some policymakers believe the risk of inflation means asset purchases should be tapered or ended, even before a substantial improvement is seen in the labor market.
However, Shepherdson said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will not cease asset purchases until he is convinced the economy is on a sustainably firmer footing.
"The discussions at the March FOMC have been superseded by the soft payroll report last week; the Fed is now waiting to see how the economy responds to the fiscal tightening."
(Read More: US Job Creation Plunges, but Rate Drops to 7.6%)
Friday's jobs report came in well below expectations, raising concerns that the recovery in the world's largest economy is weakening. March's participation rate was at its lowest since 1979, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just 88,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, although the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent in February.
Each recent release of Fed minutes has sent jitters across U.S. stock markets with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq trading negative after February's report.
"If in reviewing the effectiveness of quantitative easing, the market interprets any of the Fed comments as skewing the probability of ending quantitative easing in the near term as higher or lower, the market could react," said Ian Lyngen, senior Treasury strategist at CRT Capital.
The Fed minutes of its March meeting are due at 2 p.m. New York time.
(Read More: Why US Job Market Is Going to Get a Lot Worse)
—By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch