Among the stealth victories won by Ben Bernanke last week was that he made it easier to neutralise a hawkish shift within the FOMC into the future.
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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
There was a seemingly minor item in the FOMC minutes released yesterday that didn’t get much attention but that, naturally, interested us quite a bit.
The participants noted that the Fed staff had presented an analysis showing “substantial capacity for additional purchases without disrupting market functioning”. But the staff part of the minutes offered no details of this analysis. Read more
A couple of charts from Barclays economists showing the relative contribution of food to headline and core CPI:
The biggest change is in the very first paragraph. In June the Fed had written that the economy “has been expanding moderately”. Now economic activity has “decelerated somewhat over the first half of this year.” Read more
You can consider this a preview of both next week’s meeting and the one in September, as various reports have indicated that he Fed may wish to wait for more economic data before deciding what to do next.
As usual we won’t play the percentages; instead we’ll just run through the possibilities and list a few of the potential complicating factors involved with each of them. Read more
I guess I would add to that, though, that, you know, each of these nonstandard programs does have various costs and risks associated with it with respect to market functioning, with respect to financial stability, with respect to the exit process, and so I don’t think they should be launched lightly. I think there should be some conviction that they’re needed, but if we do come to that conviction, then we’ll take those additional steps.
The wait is finally over (well, not entirely — the new Statement of Economic Projections will be out later and we’ll have much more during US Markets Live starting at 2:10pm), and the headline news is that Operation Twist has been extended through the end of the year.
We’ll also have rolling updates to this post, but for now: Read more
Supply and liquidity, to name two obstacles for an extension of the Fed’s policy of selling short-end Treasuries and buying long-dated ones.
Doesn’t mean they’re insurmountable, only that it will be a little more complicated this time should the US central bank take this route. Read more
Ahead of next week’s FOMC meeting, and as the G20 tries to preemptively assuage global markets with the kind of enthusiastically meaningless statements in which it specialises…
Since the last FOMC meeting we’ve had two disappointing US payroll reports, declining measures of inflation and inflation expectations, worries that growth in emerging markets has slowed more than anticipated, and Europe… well, how much time have you got? Read more
Here’s one visual way to see the disconnect between the hawkish shift in the FOMC’s new federal funds rate projections and the steadfast dovishness of the statement itself, which preserved the late-2014 language.
From Credit Suisse: Read more
Ben Bernanke, March 2010:
That will sound awfully familiar to anyone who listened in to the presser earlier on Wednesday afternoon. Bernanke essentially reiterated the same idea in response to a question asking why he wouldn’t tolerate a period of catch-up inflation higher than two per cent if it would further reduce unemployment. Read more
Holy hawkish shift! Two of the FOMC members who previously forecasted that tightening wouldn’t begin until after 2014 have shifted their votes to that year.
Projections for inflation and growth have also been revised higher. It’s odd therefore, that the statement itself continues to use the late-2014 language — though this is probably just a reflection of the fact that Bernanke/Yellen/Dudley are 1) still more dove-ish than the median member, and 2) hold the cards. Just a guess. Read more
Join us at 2:10pm EST (7:10pm in London) for our live coverage of today’s Fed presser.
We’ll do a quick recap of the statement and have a look at the new economic and fed funds projections before the presser begins at 2:15pm. Read more
Yep, nearly time to start talking about the next FOMC meeting, a two-day affair that begins this Tuesday.
Any big decisions regarding further quantitative easing are more likely to be taken later, closer to when Operation Twist is scheduled to end in mid-June. (Expect to see more stories using the “wait-and-see mode” formulation.) But on the schedule is the second iteration of the individual participants’ federal funds rate projections, and that could be interesting. Read more
Nothing was decided in the March 13 FOMC statement, though it did include the Fed’s cautious recognition that the prospects for the US economy had improved since the start of the year.
But the minutes from the meeting, set to be released on Tuesday at 2pm EST, are likely to scrutinised carefully for any discussion of what the Fed might do next. Read more
To be filed under “events notably lacking in eventfulness”.
Any interesting revelations from tomorrow’s FOMC meeting probably won’t come in the statement; we’ll have to wait for the minutes (to be released April 3rd) to know if there was further chatter about more QE, sterilised or otherwise. Read more
Given the recent improving economic data in the US, the consensus likelihood of getting QE3 later this year seems to have gone from probable to uncertain.
Obviously it all depends on what happens in the next few months, with particular emphasis on employment trends and inflation expectations. For his part, Bernanke certainly hasn’t done anything to dismiss the notion that he’d like to keep going, emphasising the influence of the depressed housing market and arguing that the unemployment rate understates the true severity of problems in the labour market. Read more
The obvious place to start when discussing the impact of Wednesday’s FOMC meeting on US banks is with the downward pressure on net interest margins that will result from the extended period of low rates.
A short, helpful note from Nomura’s Brian Foran breaks down the issue into various components, and we’ll present each in order. Read more
The US Federal Reserve has set the stage for three more years of ultra-loose monetary policy in the world’s largest economy, prompting an immediate fall in bond yields, the FT reports. The rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee predicted low interest rates until late 2014 and set a formal inflation objective of 2 per cent, reflecting chairman Ben Bernanke’s long-held goal of providing greater transparency. The Fed’s previous estimate was for rates on hold until at least mid-2013. The FOMC downgraded its estimate of growth in the coming quarters from “moderate” to “modest” and Mr Bernanke indicated that another monetary boost for the economy – most likely another round of quantitative easing, or QE3 – remained an option. The WSJ says the Fed’s potentially aggressive stance was notable in part because the economy has shown signs of improving in recent months.
Full long-range FOMC statement belowm and click here for the Fed’s economic projections charts and tables…
Following careful deliberations at its recent meetings, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has reached broad agreement on the following principles regarding its longer-run goals and monetary policy strategy. The Committee intends to reaffirm these principles and to make adjustments as appropriate at its annual organizational meeting each January. Read more
The S&P 500 has gradually climbed from 1310 at the time of the FOMC statement to about 1322 at pixel time, and at one point 5-year Treasury yields fell to an all-time low of about 0.76 per cent. They’re now at 0.78 per cent.
You already know that the Fed changed the date through which it would keep rates exceptionally low from mid-2013 to late-2014, but it’s interesting to think about why the Fed decided to retain the language at all. Read more