By Design, the Fed May Be Tightening Too Much

Link: https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/by-design-the-fed-may-be-tightening-too-much-11655370001

Excerpt:

The Fed has often moved interest rates by 0.75 percentage point or more in recent decades. But until this week, it had always done so in a downward direction. Indeed, it was a hallmark of Fed policy that it always cut interest rates faster, with less prompting, than it raised them.

…..

This asymmetry reflected the Fed’s perception of risks. If it cut rates too little, the economy might spiral down and the financial system implode. If it cut them too much, inflation might, some years later, rise. Throughout this prepandemic period, inflation was low and, at times, too low, but that wasn’t a big deal. Moreover, during that low-inflation, low-interest-rate era, rates couldn’t fall very much — the Fed called this the “zero lower bound” — so best to act quickly to forestall a downward spiral. If inflation was a problem, there was no limit to how high rates could go.

This philosophy got taken too far. The Fed kept rates too low for too long last year (and the Biden administration enacted too much fiscal stimulus) out of a mistaken belief that inflation was a remote threat compared with prolonged high unemployment.

The result is that risks are now asymmetric in the other direction. Inflation is too high and a self-sustaining wage-price spiral is a real threat. Asked why, after carefully laying the groundwork for a half-point increase, the Fed raised rates by 0.75 point Wednesday, Mr. Powell pointed to an “eye-catching” report that showed long-term inflation expectations rising ominously.

Author(s): Greg Ip

Publication Date: 16 Jun 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Fed Hikes Rates 75 Basis Points; Powell Says 75 or 50 Likely in July

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/06/15/fed-hikes-rates-75-bps-intensifying-inflation-fight/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points — the biggest increase since 1994 — and Chair Jerome Powell said officials could move by that much again next month or make a smaller half-point increase to get inflation under control.

Slammed by critics for not anticipating the fastest price gains in four decades and then for being too slow to respond to them, Chairman Jerome Powell and colleagues on Wednesday intensified their effort to cool prices by lifting the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.5% to 1.75%.

“I do not expect moves of this size to be common,” he said at a press conference in Washington after the decision, referring to the larger increase. “Either a 50 basis point or a 75 basis-point increase seems most likely at our next meeting. We will, however, make our decisions meeting by meeting.”

Author(s): Craig Torres

Publication Date: 15 June 2022

Publication Site: Think Advisor

In a Rare White House Meeting, Biden Meets Powell to Discuss Inflation

Link: https://mishtalk.com/economics/in-a-rare-white-house-meeting-biden-meets-powell-to-discuss-inflation-guilty-meets-guilty

Graphic:

Excerpt:

PCE stands for Personal Consumption Expenditures. Those numbers come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

CPI stands for Consumer Price Index. Those numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The key difference is the PCE includes prices paid on behalf of consumers (e.g. Medicare and Medicaid), whereas the CPI only contains prices directly paid by consumers.

The PCE tends to overweight medical expenses while the CPI tends to overweight rent.

The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation is PCE.

CPI and PCE Both Seriously Flawed

Neither measure directly incorporates home prices. Economists explain this away by stating homes are a capital expense. 

OK, so what? The fact is, rising home prices (asset prices in general), are a direct reflection of inflation.

By ignoring asset prices, the Fed helped blow the biggest economic bubble yet. Now the Fed struggles to contain the serious inflation it helped create.


Author(s): Mike Shedlock

Publication Date: 30 May 2022

Publication Site: Mish Talk

Biden to Nominate Jerome Powell for Second Term as Federal Reserve Chairman

Link:https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-will-tap-jerome-powell-for-new-term-as-fed-chairman-11637589600?mod=hp_lead_pos1

Excerpt:

President Biden said he would nominate Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to a second term leading the central bank, opting for continuity in U.S. economic policy despite pushback from some Democrats who wanted someone tougher on bank regulations and climate change.

Mr. Biden said he would also nominate Fed governor Lael Brainard as vice chairwoman of the central bank’s board of governors. Prominent liberals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) had warned the president against picking Mr. Powell, and progressive groups mounted a last-ditch campaign to pressure the president to tap Ms. Brainard for the top job.

Author(s): Nick Timiraos and Andrew Restuccia

Publication Date: 22 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Powell Renominated for Fed Chair But Biden Will Reshape the Fed to His Liking

Link:https://mishtalk.com/economics/powell-renominated-for-fed-chair-but-biden-will-reshape-the-fed-to-his-liking

Excerpt:

Recall that former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke commented “Only three opinions matter, the Fed Chair, vice Chair, and President of the New York Fed.”

When it comes to banking regulation, we need to add vice chair of bank supervision.

Biden has will have named three of these four slots but Powell is a holdover.

Is everyone happy? 

Author(s): Mike Shedlock

Publication Date: 22 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Mish Talk

Fed Says Economy Has Progressed Toward Goals, Tees Up Bond Taper

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/fed-says-economy-has-made-progress-toward-its-goals-teeing-up-bond-taper-11627495233

Excerpt:

The Fed cut its benchmark interest rate to near zero in March 2020 and has been purchasing at least $120 billion a month in Treasurys and mortgage bonds to provide extra stimulus to the economy. Officials since the end of last year said those purchases would continue until they see “substantial further progress” toward their goals of low unemployment and stable inflation.

Officials said in a statement Wednesday, at the conclusion of their two-day meeting, “the economy has made progress toward these goals” this year and indicated they would “assess progress in coming meetings.”

That is a clue the Fed could outline plans to start reducing, or tapering, the purchases, later this year. The central bank’s next meetings are scheduled for Sept. 21-22 and Nov. 2-3.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a virtual news conference Wednesday that the central bank was nowhere near considering plans to raise interest rates.

Author(s): Nick Timiraos

Publication Date: 28 July 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

Fed Chairman Vows to Keep Supporting Economic Recovery

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/02/23/fed-chairman-vows-to-keep-supporting-economic-recovery/

Excerpt:

The Fed will continue $120 billion in monthly bond purchases and communicate any change.

Powell doesn’t expect any large and persistent increases in inflation; some pickup will be temporary.

Powell says getting the pandemic under control is needed for the economy to reopen.

Author(s): Bernice Napach

Publication Date: 23 February 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor