Near-Term Fed Clarity, but Future Is Cloudy
The June 14 Fed policy decision was expected to overshadow the mid-month economic figures. Instead, the soft data reports contrasted with the relatively more upbeat central bank. Did the Fed make a mistake? Or are the financial markets placing too much emphasis on the short-term data?
March payrolls, the FOMC, and backcasting 1Q17
Nonfarm payrolls were reported to have risen by “just” 98,000 in March, while the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level (4.5%) since May 2007. The March 14-15 FOMC minutes “revealed” that officials plan to begin reducing the size of the Fed’s balance sheet later this year.
Fed and Markets Still Divided on Growth Outlook
The Fed’s outlook on the economy hasn’t changed much since December. In turn, policy expectations are largely the same as well. Officials are comfortable enough in their outlooks to continue gradually normalizing monetary policy, but they don’t see enough pressure to move more rapidly.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen will present her monetary policy testimony to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. We may not learn much new regarding the pace of future rate increases (which will remain data-dependent) and she’s certain to avoid getting into any discussion of fiscal policy.
A Clouded, but Optimistic Outlook
January economic data are relatively unreliable, but recent figures paint a fairly consistent picture of where we are headed in the near term. While there is reason to be optimistic, it’s still a mixed bag, with some concerns about what we’ll see coming out of Washington over the next several months.
A Tale of Two Economies
It goes without saying that there is a sharp contrast between the economic views of the incoming administration and those of the Federal Reserve. President Trump, and most of the individuals who voted for him, sees a weak economy, devastated by job losses in manufacturing. The Federal Reserve sees an economy nearing full employment. So who’s correct?
The Fed Outlook – 2017 and Beyond
Federal Reserve policymakers are widely expected to raise short-term interest rates this week. The policy statement should continue to suggest that, while the pace of tightening is expected to be gradual, action will remain data-dependent.