In a hearing starting at 10 a.m. EDT, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will go before the Joint Economic Committee to give his outlook on the U.S. economy. But what investors will really be listening out for is what Bernanke says about when quantitative easing will end.
However, according to The Wall Street Journal's chief economics correspondent, Jon Hilsenrath, the chairman's testimony could be hamstrung by disagreement within the Fed.
When it comes to the big question about when the Fed's bond buying program should end, "I think the message coming from Bernanke and from the minutes coming out tomorrow is going to be that they're fully engaged in this debate. They're talking about it, they talked about it at the last meeting, they're going to talk about it at the next, but they haven't pinpointed when they're going to do it," Hilsenrath told "Futures Now" on Tuesday.
"There's still a difference of opinions" on when easing should end, Hilsenrath said. And "Bernanke does not like to get out in front of his committee, so I don't think he's going to come out tomorrow and say 'This is when QE starts getting wound down.' He's going to tell us, I think, that this is something that they're studying and it really, really depends on how the economy does in the next few months."
But the Fed is not undecided on all parts of the process. "They've haven't figured out the 'when' part, but I think they have figured out the 'how' part," Hilsenrath said. "I think what we're going to see them do is take this program back in increments. It's a process that could take many months."
Yet interestingly, Hilsenrath noted that the Fed is not keeping its plans from the market for any deep-seated strategic reasons. "I think they don't want to give the markets a lot of certainty over how it's going to play out and what their next step is going to be because they themselves don't know," he said.