Federal Reserve officials said the shedding of the $4.5 trillion in bonds the central bank is holding on its balance sheet will begin this year.
The revelation came Wednesday from a summary of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in March, during which the group approved a quarter-point hike in its benchmark interest rate target. Officials at the meeting noted that the Fed likely is on a faster pace with rate hikes ahead.
Unwinding the balance sheet is significant both because of its sheer size and the impact it could have on markets, as Fed members including Chair Janet Yellen have indicated that the move itself would amount to a rate hike.
"Provided that the economy continued to perform about as expected, most participants anticipated that gradual increases in the federal funds rate would continue and judged that a change to the Committee's reinvestment policy would likely be appropriate later this year," the summary, or minutes, said.
No timetable was mentioned and there wasn't any indication given that the balance sheet was in play when the FOMC released its post-meeting statement.
That may have been because there appears to be little consensus on how the operation will be carried out.