The Federal Reserve could change the calculus for markets with just two words.
The phrase "considerable time" was added to the Fed's statement earlier this year, when it wanted to reassure markets that when quantitative easing ends it would hold rates lower for longer—an eternity to stock and bond traders.
Now, the Fed's quantitative easing, or bond-buying program, is coming to an end, and the economy is improving. So Wall Street has read into recent comments of several Fed officials that the Federal Open Market Committee could drop those two words when it meets this week. It may also use the opportunity of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET this afternoon to make sure the markets are hearing the right message.
"It's kind of threatening here. We've had the biggest bond market sell-off since last November/December, so it's a big deal," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. "We're hanging in here at the high point. We're not backing off. The market is petrified they're going to drop the worlds 'considerable time' and yields shoot higher. I think they could."