In what may be the most telegraphed monetary policy move in history the Federal Reserve raised rates today by 0.25% (here is an article). The great wailing and gnashing of teeth predicted by all the Chicken Littles seems not to have come to pass though. I have been saying this on JT’s show for the better part of a year now: If the economy is so fragile that a 0.25% increase in rates is a threat to economic growth than we have bigger issues.
Being a frequent contributor to the Jarrod Thomas Show (1310 KNOX AM, Grand Forks) over the last several years I received many questions about inflation. The massive monetary stimulus injected by the Fed in response to the Great Recession “must” be inflationary. Many callers believed there was no way to avoid a massive inflation as an outcome.
This is something of a non-news item (article). Three Republicans on the banking committee supported her making it very likely there would be 60 votes for her in the Senate which would negate any procedural moves to delay her appointment. Fed policy is entering a transition period as extraordinary policy measures such as asset purchases are in line for phase out. The timing of these events is very important because, unfortunately, financial markets depend on these measures right now. Fed purchases are supporting prices and keeping yields low, impacting individual asset allocation decisions. When the interventions end we will see changes in yields, and therefore changes in those asset allocation decisions. As a result you will see increased volatility in financial markets, which matters for individual retirements, college savings and so on.
The grilling of Janet Yellen as the nominee to be the next Fed Chair is sure to raise some interesting fodder. I will comment as appropriate but I have a presentation on Friday so it may take some time for me to get the posts up. I will suggest the following though: the nomination of Yellen is a status quo pick. She is an insider and has been present through the QE policies and so understands the rationale behind current Fed policy. This makes here unlikely to undertake drastic immediate change. This is in contrast to a Summers nomination. Summers ego was likely to get in the way and he would need to change policy simply to put his stamp on events.
The Fed has been wrong about growth lately in their forecasts, and wrong in a very bad way. The Fed forecasts have not yet taken into account fundamental changes in individual behavior. It would not be a surprise that such forecasts were wrong during or in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, but to still be so wrong at this point is worrisome. What is the problem? People are scared.
In the last month, I have fielded many questions regarding Federal Reserve monetary policy and financial markets. Not a surprise since so much happened in that sphere. The Fed announced a change in policy. No wait, they didn’t. In fact,all they said at some point in the future we may see the U.S. economy strong enough that massive monetary stimulus may no longer be necessary. We should really file this under a non-story type of title, akin to saying at some point the sun will rise, but I am not sure when.