The US Federal Reserve's latest move to "taper" its monetary stimulus is just the first step on a long road.
As was widely expected, the Fed has announced it will scale back its monthly purchases of bonds and securities issued by government-sponsored agencies.
This, the second step of the taper, cuts the monthly target for the Asset Purchase Program (APP) by $US10 billion to $US65 billion. In January, it reduced the target by $US10 billion, from $US85 billion.
The APP, often referred to in more generic terms as quantitative easing (or QE) of monetary policy, has two effects.
It adds to bank reserves as the bonds are paid for by the Fed "printing money".
And it reduces the downward pressure on bond yields and, as a result, allows longer-term interest rates in the US to edge up.
But even after the latest round of tapering, reserves in the banking system will still be rising at about twice the pace of gross domestic product in the US.
So the level of reserves, already massive, will continue to be no constraint on bank lending.
And, even at its reduced pace, the APP is more than enough to soak up all the bonds the US government needs to issue to fund its annual budget deficit.
And there's no reason to expect much upward pressure on bond yields, such as a big jump in the supply of bonds on the market might cause.
This latest step, then, is not a significant tightening of monetary policy - it just won't be as incredibly loose as it was.
It's a baby step along a very long road.
The wording of the statement issued after the Federal Open Markets Committee's two-day meeting wound up in Washington on Wednesday (US time), suggests tapering will continue but at a snail's pace.
And shorter term rates will stay ultra-low.
The Fed said the short-term policy rate, the fed funds rate, will stay near zero "well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6.5 per cent, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee's two per cent longer-run goal".
The current inflation rate is 1.5 per cent and unemployment 6.7 per cent.
The Fed said it would consider "additional measures of labour market conditions", not just unemployment.
That mostly referred to the decline in the labour force participation rate, itself a signal of job market weakness but one which masks the effect on the headline unemployment rate.
At the current rate of tapering, the Fed will wind up its monthly purchases of bonds by the end of the year.
But it's not likely to have taken the next step and start selling.
And Fed funds will most likely still be near zero this time next year.
The Fed's foot will not be pushed down all the way to the floor, but it will still be on the accelerator.