There was an interesting exchange during Janet Yellen's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday morning, when South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney asked Yellen if the Fed will openly (as opposed to indirectly via Citadel) buy stocks. Specifically, he said that "there's been some attention in the last few months about the resent decision by the Bank of Japan to start purchasing equities and my question to you is fairly simple. Is the United States Federal Reserve looking at the possibility of adding the purchase of equities to its tool box as it looks at monetary policy?"
This was her response:
"Well, the Federal Reserve is not permitted to purchase equities. We can only purchase U.S. treasuries and agency securities. I did mention in a speech in Jackson Hole, though, where I discussed longer term issues and difficulties we could have in providing adequate monetary policy. Accommodation may be somewhere in the future, down the line that this is the kind of thing that Congress might consider, but if you were to do so, it's not something that the Federal Reserve is asking for."
And there you have the apolitical Fed hinting to Congress all it would to keep the stock market propped up in perpetuity is a small change in the law for Yellen to lift the offer, or as Chuck Schumer would put it, "get to work Mrs; Chairwoman."
Also, not asking for yet, because we are certain that there was a time when neither the BOJ nor the SNB imagined they would have to officially intervene in the stock market to keep it propped up. Furthermore, as the WSJ notes, "Yellen’s tentative openness to changing the law suggests Fed officials have been giving a lot of thought to new ways to jolt the economy in an era of low inflation and low interest rates."
Alas, in a time when the Reuters writes that "any ECB scheme to buy stocks could total 200 billion euros", to keep hammering the idea that central bank purchases of stocks are just a matter of time, we get the feeling that the spot Yellen envisions as being "somewhere in the future" is not that far off.