The Federal Reserve will probably put off tapering its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program "for a little bit," but the central bank has to start scaling back next year, Wells Fargo Securities Chief Economist John Silvia told CNBC on Wednesday, ahead of the conclusion of the Fed's two-day policy meeting.
"Higher future interest rates have already got to be priced into the marketplace," he said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "QE infinity becomes QE six months. That has a huge impact in pricing in the market."
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"The shift in QE forever to QE for a finite period of time is the thing" the markets are focusing on, agreed Jeff Knight, head of global asset allocation at Columbia Management with $58 billion under management. "Primarily the quantitative easing has had [more of] a financial market impact than a real economy impact."
Silvia said the Fed is going to have to start tapering in 2014 "simply because they're just buying the [bond] market up."
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"Cutting $10 billion or $20 billion a month for the next six or seven months—however they decide to do that—is just a market thing, not an economic thing," Allen Sinai, chief global economist at Decision Economics, told CNBC. "It's nothing in terms of the fundamentals. It's all in the eyes of the beholder and the gyrations in the market."
Investors will be looking for clues on the economy and the taper timing when Fed policymakers release their latest policy statement and economic projections Wednesday afternoon. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will follow with a news conference at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
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If Bernanke has a "good day," he can "tone down the uncertainty" by explaining that today's situation is nothing like 1994, when Alan Greenspan's Fed raised interest rates and caused market and economy turbulence, Sinai said.
Inflation today is way under the Fed's 2 percent target, he added, and "we're way away from full employment. We have a put from the Fed that they're guaranteeing us they're going to get us there."
"Less additions to the balance is nothing in terms of what it is going to do to the economy," Sinai added. "The economy will go right on fine."
There's a "good possibility" that the Fed will lower its economic growth estimates for this year—maybe to "2.5 percent to 2.25 percent," Silvia said. "And inflation definitely—inflation is far below their target. That's been coming in very well for them."