QEIII is coming to an end this month. The Fed really means it and so far has been on its predetermined path to slowly curtail the purchases, with the wind down starting last December. There seems to be no calls for an extension of the U.S. Treasury and mortgage bond buying game and even thoughFed Do recent FOMC minutes showed the doves far outnumbered the hawks, there are some indications that the Fed can’t really just sit back and watch the economy trudge along.

In an article today on cnbc.com, some are wondering that the Fed can do now that QEIII will be over. While the economy here seems to be on a careful mend, other economies aren’t in such a position, with some effectively in a recession, the article points out. Europe, even Germany, Brazil, Russia and others are watching their economies shrink while the battleground in the Middle East continues to grow. Further still, even though the price of oil is hitting two year lows while that helps consumers at the pump it curtails our exports. When oil hovers at or below $80 per barrel, some companies will pull back production or even lay off workers.

The Fed can’t ratchet down rates from where they are today, effectively at zero. But they might be able to try a trick the European Central Bank pulled last year—stop paying interest on excess reserves banks in the United States are keeping in their vaults. Stopping those payments will both cost banks profits as well as, hopefully anyway, encourage banks to make loans. If they don’t that cash is sitting in an account collecting nothing more than dust.

Would that be enough to get banks back in the lending business? Maybe, it couldn’t hurt and it’s certainly a strategic move. But with money so cheap for so long without any major lending effort by banks, rather than taking on additional risk, banks might still be inclined to keep their cash, regardless of any loss interest from the Fed.