Archive for the ‘Federal Reserve’ Category
Jul 11th 2013, 21:34 by G.I. | WASHINGTON, D.C.
Traders and economists both spend their days studying markets, yet I’m struck by how differently they approach the subject. Since traders profit from finding mispricings, they are biased to believe that prices are more often wrong than right. Fundamentals matter, but traders believe they are routinely overwhelmed by psychology, liquidity and other non fundamental factors.
Economists, by contrast, grow up believing prices are usually right. The intersection of supply and demand curves explains in elegant, intuitive and internally consistent fashion how each individual buyer and seller can have a different idea of what a price should be, yet their interactions collectively yield a single, objectively correct price. Economists don’t dispute the role of psychology – they’ve handed out Nobel prizes for precisely that – but the organizing principle of their lives is that market prices are usually an unbiased distillation of fundamental determinants.
These different world views help explain why traders have always been suspicious of quantitative easing (QE) and economists dismissive of those suspicions. Read the rest of this entry »
The Federal Reserve tries to clarify its goals
History shows the limits of macroprudential policy in curbing dangerous risk-taking
Jun 1st 2013 |From the print edition
[Greg Ip] AMERICA’S Federal Reserve faces a dilemma: to put the economy back on its feet it is keeping interest rates at zero and buying bonds; but in doing so, it worries, it is egging on dangerous risk-taking. Cue “macroprudential” policy. In theory, central banks would use regulatory and supervisory authority to stamp out excesses in specific markets while leaving monetary policy to take care of inflation and employment.
History suggests this is easier said than done. “Macroprudential” may be new jargon, but America has tried variants of it for decades, from credit controls to down-payment limits. And the record is not a ringing endorsement for macroprudential policy, according to a new working paper by Douglas Elliott of the Brookings Institution, Greg Feldberg of America’s Treasury Department and Andreas Lehnert of the Fed. Read the rest of this entry »
May 24th 2013, 18:39 by G.I. | WASHINGTON, D.C.
The Federal Reserve left a lot of people scratching their heads this week. Between Chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony, and the release of the minutes to the May 1st Federal Open Market Committee, investors were struggling to figure whether an end to easy monetary policy was nigh. A headline in today’s The Wall Street Journal declares: “In Bid for Clarity, Fed Delivers Opacity.” Here is what I think is essential to understand about what the Fed is doing, what we learned this week, and why more crossed signals are likely ahead.
- The Fed has two exits to manage, not one. Read the rest of this entry »
May 1st 2013, 21:45 by G.I. | WASHINGTON, D.C.
THE Federal Reserve, as widely expected, stood pat today, reaffirming its commitment to near zero interest rates until unemployment fell to 6.5% or lower, and continuing to buy $85 billion of Treasury and mortgage-backed bonds until the jobs market improved substantially.
But its otherwise ho-hum statement jolted markets with this new line: “The Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Dec 13th 2012, 2:00 by G.I. | WASHINGTON, D.C.
[Greg Ip] Low inflation and full employment have been statutory goals of the Federal Reserve since 1977, but its officials always felt more comfortable with the first than the second. After all, in theory monetary policy can’t alter unemployment in the long run.
But the stubbornly weak economy of recent years prompted some at the Fed to question their historical neglect of the second half of their mandate. “The Fed’s dual mandate … has the force of law behind it,” Charlie Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said in September, 2011. “So, if 5% inflation would have our hair on fire, so should 9% unemployment.”
Nov 29th 2012, 21:37 by G.I. | WASHINGTON, D.C.
Ben Bernanke has done his bit to help the American economy. Now the politicians must do theirs
Sep 22nd 2012 | from the print edition
EVEN by the standards of a weak recovery, America’s economy has looked frail lately. Growth has sunk below 2%. Unemployment is stuck above 8%. Factory activity seems to be shrinking. Yet there is no mistaking the green shoots of optimism, in particular on Wall Street: the stockmarket has hit its highest level since 2007. Consumer confidence is edging up, and along with it approval of Barack Obama, raising his odds of re-election even before Mitt Romney’s gaffes (see article).
Give credit to central bankers and their printing presses for the improving mood. Read the rest of this entry »
Sep 13th 2012, 21:11 by G.I. | WASHINGTON
[Greg Ip] Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve reached a crossroads. It had lowered short-term interest rates to zero and promised to keep them there until 2013, and then 2014. It had undertaken multiple rounds of bond purchases to lower long-term interest rates. Yet the recovery was actually losing steam; unemployment had stopped falling. Was there anything left to try?
The answer, it turns out, is yes. Read the rest of this entry »
Central bankers wonder why success eludes them
Sep 8th 2012 | from the print edition
[Greg Ip] IMAGINE that the world’s best specialists in a particular disease have convened to study a serious and intractable case. They offer competing diagnoses and treatments. Yet preying on their minds is a discomfiting fact: nothing they have done has worked, and they don’t know why. That sums up the atmosphere at the annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, convened by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and attended by central bankers and economists from around the world*. Near the end Donald Kohn, who retired in 2010 after 40 years with the Fed, asked: “What’s holding the economy back [despite] such accommodative monetary policy for so long?” There was no lack of theories. But, as Mr Kohn admitted, none is entirely satisfying. Read the rest of this entry »