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U.S. Datanote: Fed Chair Powell Monetary Policy Testimony (Publication Centre)

In one line: No pushback on the July ease, but it's still a bad idea.

23 Aug 2019 Chair Powell will Struggle to Meet Market Expectations Today (Publication Centre)

It's going to be very hard for Fed Chair Powell's Jackson Hole speech today to satisfy markets, which now expect three further rate cuts by March next year.

9 Oct 2019 The Fed will Buy Bills, but not Enough "Materially" to Shift its Policy Stance (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell did not specify how many bills the Fed will buy in order boost bank reserves sufficiently to remove the strain in funding markets, but we'd expect to see something of the order of $500B.

28 February 2018 Powell Plays the Continuity Card, Mostly, but he's Bullish on Growth (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell sounded a lot like Janet Yellen yesterday, at least in terms of substance.

5 June 2019 The Fed will Ease if Trade Makes the Sky Fall in Otherwise, Patience (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell yesterday said about as little as he could without appearing to ignore the turmoil in markets since the President announced his intention to apply tariffs to imports from Mexico: "We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near our symmetric 2 percent objective."

20 May 2020 The Labor Market Data will Drive Congress to Act Again (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell broke no new ground in his Senate Testimony alongside--virtually--Treasury Secretary Mnuchin yesterday, maintaining the cautious tone of his recent public statements.

11 July 2019 Only a Run of Very Strong Numbers Now Could Stop the Fed this Month (Publication Centre)

At least some investors clearly were expecting Fed Chair Powell yesterday to offer a degree of resistance to the idea that a rate cut at the end o f this month is a done deal.

10 July 2019 Powell to Stick to the Party Line. Will he Mention the Trimmed Mean PCE? (Publication Centre)

We'd be surprised to see any serious shift in the tone of Fed Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony today compared to the FOMC statement and press conference just three weeks ago.

7 January 2019 Job Growth will Slow in Q1, but it Won't Collapse, AHE is Accelerating (Publication Centre)

If our composite index of businesses' hiring plans could speak, it would say: "Told you payrolls were going to go nuts at the end of the year."

11 October 2017 JOLTS Data Signal Rapid Job Gains, and Tight Labor Supply (Publication Centre)

Today's JOLTS survey covers August, which seems like a long time ago. But the report is worth your attention nonetheless.

12 Feb 2020 Powell Sticks to the Line, Current Policy is "Appropriate" (Publication Centre)

Chair Powell broke no new ground in his semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, repeating the Fed's new core view that the current stance of policy is "appropriate".

11 February 2019 Is the Accelerating Fall in Bank Reserves a Real Problem for the Fed? (Publication Centre)

The rundown of the Fed's balance sheet has proceeded in line with the plans laid out b ack in June 2017.

1 July 2019 Trade Talks Back on, this Time, Expect a Deal, Both Sides Need One (Publication Centre)

The outcome of the Trump-Xi meeting at the G20 summit was as good as we expected.

9 Sept 2019 The Trade War is Hurting Payroll Growth will Slow Further (Publication Centre)

Payroll growth in September and October probably won't be materially worse than August's meager 96K increase in private jobs.

3 Sept 2019 If China Doesn't Budge as Tariffs Rise, Mr. Trump will Blink, Eventually (Publication Centre)

After a week--yes, a whole week!--with no significant new developments in the trade war with China--it's worth stepping back and asking a couple of fundamental questions, which might give us some clues as to what will happen over the months ahead.

1 May 2019 What Will Chair Powell say About Strong Q1 Growth and Low Inflation (Publication Centre)

The FOMC meeting today will be a non-event from a policy perspective but we are very curious to see what both the written statement and the Chair will have to say about the unexpected strength of the economy in the first quarter.

13 Sept 2019 Core Inflation is Set to Breach 21⁄2% by Year-End Breakevens have to Rise (Publication Centre)

The third straight 0.3% increase in the core CPI-- that hasn't happened since 1995--was ignored by the Treasury market yesterday, which appeared to be focusing its attention on the ECB.

14 May 2020 Jobless Claims Likely Fell Again, but the Consensus Looks Ambitious (Publication Centre)

We're expecting to see the sixth straight drop in initial jobless claims this week, though we think the 2,500K consensus forecast is too ambitious.

23 January 2017 The Fed's Idea of Full Employment is not the Same as Main Street's (Publication Centre)

Full employment is a deceptively simple-sounding concept. If everyone who wants a job has one, the economy is at full employment, right? Anything less tends to raise eyebrows among non-economists, whether the people who want a job are formally inside the labor force, or have dropped out but would come back if they thought they could find work.

26 Aug 2019 Powell's Speech no Match for the Blizzard of Trump Tweets (Publication Centre)

After three days of jaw-dropping actions from President Trump, the position seems to be this: The U.S. will apply 15% tariffs on imported Chinese consumer goods, rather than the previously promised 10%, effective in two stages on September 1 and December 15.

28 May 2019 The Trade War: What we Know, What we Believe, and What we Don't Know (Publication Centre)

The trade war with China is a macroeconomic event, whose implications for economic growth and inflation can be estimated and measured using straightforward standard macroeconomic tools and data.

21 Aug 2019 Existing Home Sales are Reviving Lower Rates Signal a Better H2 (Publication Centre)

We're expecting to learn today that existing home sales rose quite sharply in July, perhaps reaching the highest level since early 2018.

22 Aug 2019 The Fed's July Differences of Opinion Won't Prevent a September Easing (Publication Centre)

It would be easy to characterize the Fed as quite split at the July meeting.

17 June 2020 May Retail Sales were Startling, but not as Good as the Headlines (Publication Centre)

Here's something we didn't expect to write: The control measure of retail sales in May was slightly higher than in February.

31 May 2019 The Rebound in the Core PCE Deflator Likely Started in April (Publication Centre)

The biggest surprise in the revisions to first quarter GDP growth, released yesterday, was in the core PCE deflator.

15 May 2019 Q2 Consumption on Course for 3%, Despite Auto Drag on April Retailing (Publication Centre)

The gap between the official measure of the rate of growth of core retail sales and the Redbook chainstore sales numbers remains bafflingly huge, but we have no specific reason to expect it to narrow substantially with the release of the April report today.

15 October 2018 The Stock Market Wobble isn't Enough to Deter the Fed (Publication Centre)

A 45bp rise in long-term interest rates--the increase between mid-August and last week's peak--ought to depress stock prices, other things equal.

5 Nov. 2015 Yellen Signals December Action, Data Permitting (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen yesterday reinforced the impression that the bar to Fed action in December, in terms of the next couple of employment reports, is now quite low: "If we were to move, say in December, it would be based on an expectation, which I believe is justified, [our italics] that with an improving labor market and transitory factors fading, that inflation will move up to 2%." The economy is now "performing well... Domestic spending has been growing at a solid pace" making a December hike a "live possibility." New York Fed president Bill Dudley, speaking later, said he "fully" agrees with Dr. Yellen's position, but "let's see what the data show."

7 Dec. 2015 After the First Hike, Next Week, Wage Gains Will Set the Pace (Publication Centre)

We're guessing Fed Chair Yellen would have preferred to have another acceleration in hourly earnings and a dip in the unemployment rate along side the hefty 211K leap in November payrolls, but no matter. At its October meeting, the Fed wanted to see "some further improvement in the labor market", and by any reasonable standard a 509K total increase in payrolls in two months fits the bill.

6 March 2017 Yellen Effectively Promises a March Hike, with Good Reason (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen's speech Friday was remarkably blunt: "Indeed, at our meeting later this month, the Committee will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with our expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate."

28 Sept. 2015 Don't Believe Case-Shiller Home Price Data - Prices are Rising (Publication Centre)

Former Treasury Secretary and thwarted would-be Fed Chair Larry Summers has been arguing for some time that the Fed should not raise rates "...until it sees the whites of inflation's eyes". As part of his campaign to persuade actual Fed Chair Yellen of the error of her intended ways, he argued at the World Economic Forum in September that the strong dollar has played no role in depressing inflation. Never one to miss an opportunity to diss the competition, he wrote that Stanley Fischer's view that the dollar has indeed restrained inflation is "substantially weakened" by the hard evidence. Dr. Summers' view is that inflation is being held down by other, longer-lasting factors, principally the slack in the lab or market, rather than the "transitory" influences favored by the Fed.

18 November. 2016 Yellen Still Thinks Inflation Will Hit the Target in Two Years. Hmm. (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen's Testimony yesterday pretended the election hadn't happened, and ignored the incoming administration's plans for a huge fiscal stimulus. She did address the issue under questioning, though, pointing out that fiscal stimulus could have inflationary consequences and that the Fed will have to factor-in to its decisions whatever Congress decides to do to taxes and spending.

18 July 2018 Powell Says Everything's on Track Gradual Hike to Continue, "for now" (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell delivered no great surprises in his semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, but he did hint, at least, at the idea that interest rates might at some point have to rise more quickly than shown in the current dot plot: "... the FOMC believes that - for now - the best way forward is to keep gradually raising the federal funds rate [our italics]."

19 May 2020 Full Recovery is a Long Way Off, but Markets Trade on News and Hopes (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell's comment on Sunday's "60 Minutes", that a recovery in the economy "may take a while... it could stretch through the end of next year" did not prevent a 3% jump in the S&P 500 yesterday.

2 Dec. 2015 Yellen to Affirm Labor Market Gains, Promise "Gradual" Hikes (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen speaks to the Economics Club of Washington, D.C., at 12.25 Eastern today, a day before she appears before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress at 10.00 Eastern. These will be her last public utterances before the FOMC meeting on December 16. Dr. Yellen won't say anything which could be interpreted as seeking to front-run the outcome of the meeting; that's not her style. But we expect her clearly to repeat that the Fed's decision will depend on whether progress has been made since October towards the Fed's twin objectives of maximum employment and 2% inflation.

20 June 2019 All Eyes on Osaka, if the Trade Talks Succeed, the Fed Won't Ease in July (Publication Centre)

The tone of Fed Chair Powell's opening comments at the press conference yesterday was much more dovish than the statement, which did little more than most analysts expected.

17 July 2018 Powell Set to Re-affirm the "Gradual" Approach to Rates, for Now (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony today will likely re-affirm that policymakers still think "gradual" rate hikes are appropriate and that the risks to the economy remain "roughly balanced".

16 July. 2015 Upbeat Yellen Dismisses European Risk - Focus Back on U.S. Data (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen said nothing very new in the core of her Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, repeating her view that rates likely will have to rise this year but policy will remain accommodative, and that the labor market is less tight than the headline unemployment rate suggests. The upturn in wage growth remains "tentative", in her view, making the next two payroll reports before the September FOMC meeting key to whether the Fed moves then.

11 Feb. 2016 March is Still in Play, but Only if Data and Markets Cooperate (Publication Centre)

If Fed Chair Yellen's objective yesterday was to deliver studied ambiguity in her Testimony--and we believe it was--she succeeded. She offered plenty to both sides of the rate debate. For the hawks, she noted that unemployment is now "...in line with the median of FOMC participants' most recent estimates of its longer-run normal level", and that inflation is still expected to return to the 2% target, "...once oil and import prices stop falling".

13 July. 2015 Dull Yellen Testimony Given Greek Story - then Back to Labor Data? (Publication Centre)

We expect Greece to do what it needs to do by Wednesday to secure its third bailout, and, judging by her speech in Cleveland last Friday, so does the Fed Chair. It's always risky to assume blithely that European politicians will do the right thing in the end, and they seem absolutely determined to humiliate Greece before writing the checks, but a completed deal is the most likely outcome.

14 Jan. 2016 Does Cost-Push Inflation Give the Fed the Luxury of Time? (Publication Centre)

In yesterday's Monitor we set out the risk that accelerating wages will force the Fed to raise rates more quickly than expected, but we didn't have space to address the underlying premise of this story, namely, the idea that inflation is largely a cost-push phenomenon. From the perspective of fixed income investors, it might not seem to matter whether this is a realistic description of the inflation process, because Fed Chair Yellen believes it wholeheartedly, and her hands are on the levers of monetary policy.

15 February 2017 Yellen Says no "Active" Balance Sheet Management from the Fed (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen delivered no great surprises in her semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony, though she certainly was clear on her attitude to the balance sheet. The Fed does not want to "...use the balance sheet as an active tool of monetary policy."

21 February 2017 Wages Don't Necessarily Lead Inflation, but Unit Labor Costs do (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen said something which sounded odd, at first, in her Q&A at the Senate Banking Committee last Tuesday. It is "not clear" she argued, that the rate of growth of wages has a "direct impact on inflation".

21 Mar. 2016 The Fed Either Hopes for a Miracle or Wants Inflation to Overshoot (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen made it clear in last week's press conference that she is not convinced the increase in core inflation will persist: "I want to warn that there may be some transitory factors that are influencing [the rise in core inflation]... I see some of that is having to do with unusually high inflation readings in categories that tend to be quite volatile without very much significance for inflation over time.

27 September 2017 Yellen is Following the Tightening Labor Market, it's Telling her to Hike (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen's speech in Cleveland yesterday elaborated on the key themes from last week's FOMC meeting.

27 February 2019 More Patience from Powell, Despite the Recovery in the Stock Market (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday broke no new ground, largely repeating the message of the January 30 press conference.

28 November 2018 The Fed is Nearer Neutral, but That's not News Where is Neutral (Publication Centre)

Today brings a ton of data, as well as an appearance by Fed Chair Powell at the Economic Club of New York, in which we assume he will address the current state of the economy and the Fed's approach to policy.

10 Feb. 2016 Yellen to Sound Cautious Today, but Can't Ignore the Labor Market (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen today needs to strike a balance between addressing investors' concerns over the state of the stock market and the risks posed by slower growth in Asia, and the tightening domestic labor market.

29 November 2018 Powell Says the Funds Rate is Just Below... Well, What, Exactly (Publication Centre)

The stock market loved Fed Chair Powell's remarks on the economy yesterday, specifically, his comment that rates are now "just below" neutral.

5 February 2019 Six Days Later, We're Still Struggling to Make Sense of the Fed's Thinking (Publication Centre)

We very much doubt that Fed Chair Powell dramatically changed his position last week because President Trump repeatedly, and publicly, berated him and the idea of further increases in interest rates.

26 March 2019 Consumers are Cash-Rich and Confident Don't Worry About Them (Publication Centre)

When Fed Chair Powell said last week that the "surprise" weakness in the official retail sales numbers is "inconsistent with a significant amount of other data", we're guessing that he had in mind a couple of reports which will be updated today.

22 Dec. 2014 - Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting for the Great Housing Rebound (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen said in her press conference last week that she has "...been surprised that housing hasn't recovered more robustly than it has. In part I think it reflects very tight credit--continuing tight credit conditions for any borrower that doesn't have really pristine credit... my hope is that that situation will ease over time".

22 Mar. 2016 The Upturn in Core Inflation is Real - Don't Focus on the Noise (Publication Centre)

We pointed out in yesterday's Monitor that Fed Chair Yellen appears to be putting a good deal of faith in the idea that the recent upturn in core inflation is temporary. She argued that "some" of the increase reflects "unusually high readings in categories that tend to be quite volatile without very much significance for inflation over time".

24 Feb. 2015 Labor Data Set to Change Yellen's Tone at Today's Testimony? (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen is a committed believer in the orthodox idea that inflation is largely a cost-push phenomenon, and that the most important cost, by far, is labor. So in order to predict what Dr. Yellen might say about the outlook for Fed policy in her Testimony today--beyond the language of the January FOMC statement--we have to take a view on her assessment of the state of the labor market.

25 Sept. 2015 Yellen Defends Orthodoxy: Policy Lags Mean Rates to Rise this Year (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen set out a robust and detailed defense of the orthodox approach to monetary policy in her speech in Amherst, MA, yesterday afternoon. Her core argument could have come straight from the textbook: As the labor market tightens, cost pressures will build. Monetary policy operates with a "substantial" lag, so waiting too long is dangerous; the "...prudent strategy is to begin tightening in a timely fashion and at a gradual pace".

25 August 2017 Yellen to Talk on Financial Stability, But Might Refer to Policy too (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen speaks at Jackson Hole today, at 10:00 Eastern. Her topic is billed as "financial stability", but that does not necessarily preclude remarks on the outlook for the economy and policy.

MARKET WATCH - Yellen's message this week? Rate hikes are coming (Media Centre)

Chief US economist Ian Shepherdson on the latest Jobs report

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