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Posts tagged 'FOMC'
After his Congressional testimony in May and the FOMC meeting in June, Ben Bernanke struggled to convince the markets that decisions regarding QE would be state-contingent rather than predetermined — and more to the point, that monetary policy would be accomodative for as long as necessary.
Did he finally get his message across by delaying the widely expected taper? Maybe, if judging by the reaction of Treasury yields and equity markets. Read more
To what extent does the Fed’s decision this week on whether to taper — and if so, by how much — rely on a trend that nobody can explain?
Many, many commentators noted after the August employment situation report that the unemployment rate has dropped in recent years largely because of a decline in the labour force participation rate. And after adjusting for demographic trends, which had been expected, it’s unclear how much of the decline is down to structural versus cyclical reasons. Read more
Larry Summers has his haters, and Tuesday’s report from Ezra Klein that Summers is now the frontrunner to replace Ben Bernanke as the next Fed chair has doubtless set them off.
On this particular issue, I’m not really one of them. Some of the mistakes of his past, such as his role in deregulating derivatives (the Brooksley Born episode) or the Harvard interest rate blowup, don’t really tell us much about his capacity to guide macroeconomic stabilisation policy. Read more
Michael Cloherty of RBC Capital Markets makes an interesting point in a short note today about the role played by market structure in pushing interest rates higher than the Fed expected when Bernanke telegraphed the eventual tapering strategy.
Yes, Cloherty writes, markets might have overreacted — but they are more jittery than in normal times because financial markets have increased their sensitivity to reabsorbing credit risk: Read more
Several FOMC members have had their say since last week’s meeting, with Bullard explaining his dovish dissent and Kocherlakota encouraging the use of 7 per cent unemployment as a threshold for scaling back asset purchases rather than as a stopping point.
N.I.: So is your objection and reason for dissenting that you disagree with the pathway for policy that was laid out, of ending QE when unemployment hits about 7 percent and raising short-term rates when unemployment is about 6.5 percent or lower? Or is it that you disagree that now was a good time to lay that out? Read more
Before the presser on Wednesday, Ben Bernanke’s vague definition of “substantial improvement” in the outlook for labour markets resembled the old line about porn: he’ll know it when he sees it.
The phrase was originally intended to represent the scenario under which asset purchases would end, not when they would be slowed (or “tapered”). And the purpose of this round of quantitative easing was to “increase the near-term momentum” of the economy until growth was self-sustaining, and conducted in the context of price stability. Read more
Highlights follow, beginning with inflation:
Both headline and core PCE inflation in the first quarter came in below the Committee’s longer-run goal of 2 percent, but these recent lower readings appeared to be due, in part, to temporary factors; other measures of inflation as well as inflation expectations had remained more stable. Accordingly, participants generally continued to expect that inflation would move closer to the 2 percent objective over the medium run. Nonetheless, a number of participants expressed concern that inflation was below the Committee’s target and stressed that future price developments bore careful watching. Read more
I would say that we will be looking for sustained improvement in a range of key labor market indicators, including obviously, payrolls, unemployment rate, but also others like the hiring rate, claims for unemployment insurance, quit rates, wage rates and so on, looking for sustained improvement across a range of indicators, and in a way that is taking place throughout the economy.
During the presser following last June’s FOMC meeting, Ben Bernanke cautioned that another round of QE shouldn’t be undertaken lightly because it may have “various costs and risks associated with it with respect to market functioning, with respect to financial stability, with respect to the exit process”.
The next round was launched in September, of course — after (though certainly not just because of) Fed staff economists presented an analysis to the FOMC concluding that there was “substantial capacity for additional purchases without disrupting market functioning”. Read more
The quotes below speak for themselves, and if you’re on Twitter then check out the #FOMC hashtag, where the gang at the NYT and a few others have rolling updates as they make their way through the statements.
Our earlier post is here, and emphasis ours in each excerpt…
Stockton (chief economist), September: Read more
We still think the minutes of the December FOMC meeting — specifically their revelation that “several” committee members believe asset purchases should be slowed or stopped by the end of this year — were wrongly interpreted by some as a hawkish shift.
Bernanke explained at the September presser that asset purchases, purpose of which he said was “to increase the near-term momentum of the economy”, would continue until the outlook for labour markets had improved “substantially”. Read more
These minutes are for the meeting at which the Fed announced its switch to a version of the Evans’ Rule. While that change was expected, it wasn’t expected to be made as soon as it ultimately was.
The most interesting bit from the minutes below in bold, followed by some quick commentary. Read more
We’re starting at 2:10pm EST (7:10pm in London) at the usual place.
We were puzzled a few weeks ago as to why Charles Evans had changed his eponymous rule from 7/3 to 6.5/3.5. Turns out he might have just been aligning himself with what was coming.
Today the FOMC abandoned using a calendar date (most recently mid-2015) as its approximate guide to when it would begin raising rates. Instead: Read more
Expected changes, unexpectedly soon. Not just the widely anticipated announcement that the Fed would continue buying long-end Treasuries after the end of Twist, but also a switch from using a calendar date (previously set at mid-2015) to economic objectives for estimating approximately when the committee will raise rates in the future.
It was about this time last year that we noted how the voting membership of the FOMC would become more dove-ish in 2012. Of course, at the time we had no idea that Jeremy Stein and Jerome Powell would be appointed and confirmed this year, making the committee even more receptive to Ben Bernanke’s decisions.
Surely this made it easier, at least on the margins, for Bernanke to move in the direction of Evans/Woodford/Sumner, which he finally did at the big September meeting (also helping was what appeared at the time to be another post-winter slowdown in the US economy). Read more
Nomura economist David Resler, in a valedictory research note, passed along the following chart as part of his thoughtful meditation on the Fed:
It’s Fed speech week, but rather than spending much time supporting or criticising last week’s decision by the FOMC, Minneapolis Fed president Narayana Kocherlakota has instead drawn inspiration from Charles Evans and introduced his own conditionality-based “liftoff plan”:
As long as the FOMC satisfies its price stability mandate, it should keep the fed funds rate extraordinarily low until the unemployment rate has fallen below 5.5 percent. … Read more
A cheat sheet for the hawk-dove breakdown on the FOMC (click to enlarge, via Credit Suisse):
Tune in at 2:05pm EST (7:05pm in London) today for a special edition of US Markets Live and join the rabble to watch The Bearded One be questioned by our colleagues in the media.
In a great post over at Money Supply, Robin Harding explains the main source of suspense for today’s FOMC statement and presser (our emphasis):
For me, the question of what the Fed will do is far less interesting – and far less in doubt – than how the Fed will do it. This will not be a pro forma repeat of previous actions. As Mr Bernanke’s speech shows, the Fed is trying to address grave concerns about the labour market. The crucial issue is whether and how they tie any action to the state of the economy. Read more