Category: Fed

A key recession indicator is getting closer to the danger zone — and the Fed can’t ignore it

BusinessInsider/Pedro Nicolaci da Costa/11-21-17

In the past, including before the Great Recession, an inverted yield curve — where long-term interest rates fall below their short-term counterparts — has been a reliable predictor of recessions. The bond market is not there yet, but a sharp recent flattening of the yield curve has many in the markets watchful and concerned.

The US yield curve is now at its flattest in about 10 years — in other words, since around the time a major credit crunch of was gaining steam. The gap between two-year-note yields and their 10-year counterparts has shrunk to just 0.63 percentage points, the narrowest since November 2007.

…”We believe a pre-condition for the Fed to continue its hiking cycle in 2018 should be higher intermediate and long-term rates,” they wrote in a research note to clients. “Without the latter, we would have doubts on the former.”

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy |

The Fed is Poisoning the Market. Here’s the Antidote

WSJ/James Mackintosh/11-16-17

Janet Yellen has two meetings left as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, and traders think they know exactly what she will do with interest rates. Fed-funds futures peg the chance of a quarter-point hike next month at 97%, with just a 5% chance of a further rise at her swan song in January.

…Central bank openness and the unwillingness of policy makers to surprise investors was a powerful drug in the crisis, but leaks a slow poison into the markets. The result is that investors have piled on bad risks they would otherwise be unwilling to take on. It also degraded the quality of the signals markets send about the economy. Perhaps worst of all for central bankers, the transparency has conspicuously failed in its main job of getting investors to understand the policy process. Their magical aura is wavering, and the danger is the curtain is pulled back to reveal that mere economists control the monetary policy levers.

…Forward guidance menaces markets mainly because it encourages risk taking, over and above that already encouraged by low rates.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |

New York Fed President Dudley to Announce Early Retirement

WSJ/Michael S. Derby & Nick Timiraos/11-06-17

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is set to announce he will retire next year, about six months earlier than scheduled, adding to an unusual wave of turnover among the central bank’s top monetary and regulatory decision makers and ushering in new uncertainty about its policy course.

William Dudley’s announcement could come as soon as Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter. The search for his successor will start immediately with the aim of finding a successor in mid-2018.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |

Trump nominates Fed’s Powell to lead U.S. central bank


Reuters/Howard Schneider/11-02-17

President Donald Trump on Thursday tapped Fed Governor Jerome Powell to become head of the U.S. central bank, promoting a soft-spoken centrist to replace Janet Yellen when her term expires in February 2018.

…Powell, a 64-year-old lawyer and former investment banker, has backed Yellen’s general direction on monetary policy and, in recent years, shared her concerns that weak inflation justified a continued cautious approach to raising interest rates.

PG View: The status quo nominee gets the nod, as was widely expected.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |

Fed steady on policy, in line with expectations. Gradual increases in Fed funds rate warranted. Core inflation remains soft.

USAGOLD/Peter Grant/11-01-17

The Fed held steady on policy as was widely expected. The door remains open for a December rate hike, but soft inflation is still a concern.

“On a 12-month basis, both inflation measures have declined this year and are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance.” — FOMC Statement

That level of concern will likely prove insufficient to move the needle on December rate hike expectations.

The drop in September nonfarm payrolls — the first in 7-years — was mentioned, but is being viewed as transitory. The Fed sees the labor market as continuing to strengthen.

Both gold and silver have edged modestly lower within their respective intraday ranges since the release.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy |

Trump likely to pick Jerome Powell as next Fed chair: source


Reuters/Steve Holland/10-30-17

U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to pick Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell as the next chair of the U.S. central bank, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

An announcement on whom Trump will choose is expected on Thursday, a White House official said separately.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |

Trump Leans Toward Jay Powell As Next Fed Chairman


Bloomberg/Jennifer Jacobs & Saleha Mohsin/10-27-17

President Donald Trump is leaning toward appointing Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to be the next chairman of the Fed, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The decision isn’t yet final, the people cautioned, and Trump could change his mind at any time. Yet his preference for Powell dims current Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s chances for a second term at the helm of the world’s leading central bank.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |

Fed chair choice down to Powell, Taylor, one source tells Politico

Reuters/Tim Ahmann/10-26-17

President Donald Trump’s search for the next chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve has come down to Fed Governor Jerome Powell and Stanford University economist John Taylor, Politico on Thursday cited one source as saying, while another counseled caution.

…A White House official told Reuters: “No final decision has been made.”

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |

Yellen Says Fed’s Extraordinary Policies May Be Needed Again


AP, via USNews/Paul Wiseman/10-20-17

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday defended the central bank’s extraordinary efforts to fight the Great Recession and said they might be needed again.

During the recession, the Fed pushed short-term interest rates to zero. When the economy needed more help, it took the extraordinary step of buying hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of bonds to push long-term interest rates lower.

…Yellen said the Fed likely will have to turn to bond purchases again — even in a downturn that isn’t as bad as the 2007-2009 Great Recession, which was the worst since the 1930s.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy, QE |

The Fed is worried that low inflation is here to stay for a while


BusinessInsider/Akin Oyedele/10-11-17

Many Federal Reserve officials are concerned that inflation will remain lower for longer, according to minutes of the policy meeting they held in September.

…”Many participants expressed concern that the low inflation readings this year might reflect not only transitory factors, but also the influence of developments that could prove more persistent,” the minutes said. Some members debated that more secular factors like the influence of technology on lowering prices may suppress inflation below the Fed’s 2% target for longer.

This may warrant more patience in raising interest rates, the Fed officials said. They were split on whether to hike for a third time this year, likely to be considered in December.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy |

The Market’s Got It Wrong

Daily Reckoning/Jim Rickards/10-09-17

Janet Yellen’s mantra is, “It’s transitory!”

That’s Yellen’s typical response to a long litany of data that shows the U.S. is in the grip of a powerful disinflationary trend that may lead to outright deflation — a central banker’s worst nightmare.

The Fed has a publicly announced 2% inflation goal, which they consider to be price stability. In fact, 2% inflation cuts the purchasing power of the dollar by 75% in the course of an average lifetime. The Fed would tell you to ignore that.

…The Fed has created $3.5 trillion of new money since 2008, yet there has been no appreciable amount of inflation for nine years.

PG View: Rickards believes that rate hike expectations will deteriorate in the months ahead and that Yellen will be reluctant to do another rate hike as her last act as Fed chair.

As market probabilities catch up with reality, the dollar will sink, the euro and gold will rally, and interest rates will resume their long downward slide. — Jim Rickards
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Posted in Central Banks, Economy, Fed, Monetary Policy |

Gold gains as talk of dovish Fed chair knocks dollar


Reuters/Maytaal Angel/01-04-17

Gold rose on Wednesday after marking a seven-week low the previous session, as the dollar dipped on talk that a dovish Federal Reserve chair would be appointed next year.

The greenback eased against a currency basket after a Politico report said Fed Governor Jerome Powell was favoured by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over former governor Kevin Warsh. Janet Yellen’s term as chair expires in February.

Powell is seen as more dovish than Warsh, who has criticised the Fed’s bond-buying programme in the past.

PG View: And thanks to Jeff Gundlach, über-dove Neel Kashkari has been forced into the mix as well.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Gold News, Gold Price, Gold Views, Politics |

Jeffrey Gundlach: Neel Kashkari will be next Fed chief because he’s an ‘easy money guy’

CNBC, via USAToday/John Melloy/10-04-17

Bond King” Jeffrey Gundlach has an unusual pick for who President Donald Trump will choose to be the next Federal Reserve chief.

“I actually have a very non-consensus point of view. I think it’s going to be Neel Kashkari,” the the CEO of DoubleLine Capital told the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Tuesday in Los Angeles. “He happens to be the most easy money guy that’s in the Federal Reserve system today and that’s why he may win.”

PG View: Kashkari has been a dissenter on the recent rate hikes and seems to favor more dovish policy until inflation really does pick up.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Politics |

Fed’s rate hikes causing low inflation, Kashkari says

Reuters/Ann Saphir/10-02-17

The Federal Reserve’s own actions, not transitory factors, are responsible for weak inflation, a Fed policymaker argued on Monday, and the U.S. central bank should wait to raise rates again until inflation hits its 2-percent goal.

“The FOMC’s policy to remove monetary accommodation over the past few years is likely an important factor driving inflation expectations lower,” Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari wrote in an essay on the bank’s website, referring to the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee, which sets U.S. interest rates. “My preference would be not to raise rates again until we actually hit 2 percent core PCE inflation on a 12-month basis, unless we have seen a large drop in the headline unemployment rate signaling that we have used up remaining labor market slack, or a surprise increase in inflation expectations.”

PG View: Tighter policy is not the path to higher inflation. But easier policy has failed to boost inflation for years as well. So, what’s a central bank to do?

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, inflation, Monetary Policy |

Trump Meets With Kevin Warsh About Fed Chairman Job

WSJ/Michael C. Bender/09-29-17

President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with former Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh on Thursday to discuss his potential nomination as the next Fed chairman, a White House official said, signaling that the West Wing is moving ahead with a process that the president has said he would like to have completed by the end of the year.

PG View: Warsh was a Fed governor from 2006 to 2011 and was generally opposed to über-accommodative monetary policy, although not to the point of dissent. He is being broadly panned as too cautious, but it may be that the risks he warned about have yet to manifest . . .

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |

The world’s largest hedge fund told clients the Fed is making a mistake


BusinessInsider/Rachael Levy/09-28-17

“The Fed is basing its moves on classic cyclical indicators and the desire to ‘normalize’ the balance sheet,” Bridgewater Associates told clients in a private note, which was seen by Business Insider. “Based on the calculations that we do, we doubt that the Fed will be able to execute its plan without causing problems.”

Reason 1 (of 5): “There is not nearly enough inflation and overheating risk to make concerns about inflation and overheating of paramount importance.”

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, inflation, Monetary Policy, QE |

Outside the Box Low Inflation Is No “Mystery”

Mauldin Economics/John Mauldin/09-27-17

When is a mystery not a mystery? When Janet Yellen is puzzling over a lack of inflation, that’s when. So say Brian Wesbury, chief economist, and Robert Stein, deputy chief economist of First Trust, in today’s Outside the Box. The bottom line: QE didn’t work, and Janet knew it was unlikely to work, from the start.

…So forgive us for asking, but after unprecedented expansion of banking reserves and the Fed balance sheet, with little inflation, is it really a “mystery?” Or, is it proof of what we believed all along: QE didn’t work?

…instead of boosting Milton Friedman’s key money number (M2), the excess monetary base growth went into “excess reserves” – money the banks hold as deposits, but don’t lend out. Money in the warehouse (or in this case, credits on a computer) doesn’t boost demand! This is why real GDP and inflation (nominal GDP) never accelerated in line with monetary base growth.

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Posted in BoE, BoJ, Central Banks, ECB, Fed, inflation, Monetary Policy, QE |

Fed’s Yellen says gradual hikes should continue, despite weak inflation

Reuters/Howard Schneider & Ann Saphir/09-26-17

The Federal Reserve needs to continue gradual rate hikes despite broad uncertainty about the path of inflation, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday in remarks that acknowledged the central bank’s struggles to forecast one of its key policy objectives.

It is possible, Yellen said, that the Fed may have “misspecified” its models for inflation, and “misjudged” key facts like the underlying strength of the labor market and whether inflation expectations are as stable as they seem.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy |

Yellen says Fed may have been wrong on employment and inflation, which would mean easier policy ahead

CNBC/Jeff Cox/09-26-17

The Federal Reserve may have overstated the strength of the labor market and the rate of inflation, leading to monetary policy ahead that will be easier than previously thought, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday.

…The result would be an even more dovish Fed when it comes to removing the historically aggressive policy accommodation in place since the financial crisis.

“My colleagues and I may have misjudged the strength of the labor market, the degree to which longer-run inflation expectations are consistent with our inflation objective, or even the fundamental forces driving inflation,” Yellen said, according to prepared remarks.

PG View: While the market seems to have latched on to the reiteration that gradual rate hikes are appropriate, the acknowledgement that the Fed might be wrong seems pretty dovish in actuality.

“…if longer-run inflation expectations are running at levels consistent with longer-run PCE price inflation somewhat below 2 percent, the FOMC can still achieve its inflation goal. Under those conditions, continuing to revise our assessments in response to incoming data would naturally result in a policy path that is somewhat easier than that now anticipated–an appropriate course correction that would reflect our commitment to maximum employment and price stability. — Janet Yellen
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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, inflation, Monetary Policy |

Gold falls as Yellen reiterates that gradual tightening is appropriate.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Gold News, Gold Price, Monetary Policy |

Dollar close to 2015 lows as conflicted Fed prepares policy update

Reuters/Abhinav Ramnarayan & Ritvik Carvalho/09-20-17

…[C]aught between a lull in U.S. inflation and a strengthening global economy, the market is uncertain whether the Fed will signal its third interest rate hike of the year or back off until prices rise more briskly.

“Fed members have become less hawkish of late, and that has started to weigh on the dollar,” said OANDA analyst Craig Erlam.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy, U.S. Dollar |

Traders Boost Odds of Third Rate Hike This Year as FOMC Meets


Bloomberg/Alex Harris/09-19-17

Will they or won’t they hike, that’s what traders are asking themselves before Wednesday’s policy decision from the Federal Open Market Committee. The odds of a hike by December have jumped to around 50 percent, based on fed funds futures, from 22 percent on Sept. 8. Wrightson ICAP economist Lou Crandall said as long as the Federal Reserve doesn’t take a rate hike “off the table this week,” the market may continue to push up the implied odds of another increase by year-end.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy |

Fed economist: ‘No evidence that QE works’ as central bank starts unwinding program

CNBC/Jeff Cox/09-19-17

The Federal Reserve is on the cusp of reversing the most ambitious monetary stimulus program in world history amid questions over how much impact it really delivered.

There’s little question that the program, known as quantitative easing or “money printing,” boosted the stock market.

…”Evaluating the effects of monetary policy is difficult, even in the case of conventional interest rate policy,” St. Louis Fed economist Stephen D. Williamson wrote. “With respect to QE, there are good reasons to be skeptical that it works as advertised, and some economists have made a good case that QE is actually detrimental.”

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy, QE |

Time To Drain The Fed Swamp

First Trust/Brian S. Wesbury & Robert Stein/09-11-17

The Panic of 2008 was damaging in more ways than people think. Yes, there were dramatic losses for investors and homeowners, but these markets have recovered. What hasn’t gone back to normal is the size and scope of Washington DC, especially the Federal Reserve. It’s time for that to change.

D.C. institutions got away with blaming the crisis on the private sector, and used this narrative to grow their influence, budgets, and size. They also created the narrative that government saved the US economy, but that is highly questionable.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed, Monetary Policy |

Vice Chair Stanley Fischer stepping down from Fed, citing ‘personal reasons’

CNBC/Jeff Cox/09-06-17

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer is stepping down from his position at the central bank, he told President Donald Trump in a letter Thursday.

Citing “personal reasons,” Fischer said his resignation will take effect Oct. 13.

“It has been a great privilege to serve on the Federal Reserve Board and, most especially, to work alongside Chair [Janet] Yellen as well as many other dedicated and talented men and women throughout the Federal Reserve system,” Fischer wrote.

The resignation comes with his term to expire on June 12, 2018 and creates yet another opening for Trump to fill at a critical time for the Fed.

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Posted in Central Banks, Fed |