Listening to the Fed
What does Wall Street want?
Central bank communications have evolved substantially since Sir Montagu Norman, the governor of the Bank of England from 1921-1944, reportedly took as his personal motto, “Never explain, never excuse.” More recently, in the U.S., the Federal Reserve has expanded its communications to include a statement after every meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), quarterly press conferences by the chair, and quarterly projections of the economy and the path of interest rates by each member of the FOMC.
Other central banks have done much the same, believing that monetary policy is more effective when the public and financial markets understand the central bank’s thinking and that openness is essential to preserving central bank independence in democratic societies. Yet the Fed is often criticized for being unclear and opaque, and there is no doubt that the Fed’s audiences are often confused.
On November 30, the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and the Center for Financial Economics at Johns Hopkins examined the purpose and quality of Fed communications from the perspectives of academics, former Fed officials, Wall Street Fed watchers, and those in the press who cover the Fed. What is and what should be the goal of Fed communications? What does it do well? Not so well?
Read Governor Powell’s prepared remarks on the Federal Reserve’s website.
Senior Director, Oregon Economic Forum and Professor of Practice, Department of Economics - University of Oregon
Reporter - CNBC
Chief Economist - Graham Capital Management, L.P
Partner - Cornerstone Macro
Chief Economist - Standish Mellon Asset Management
Managing Director, Chief Economist - Deutsche Bank Securities
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Sentiment inside the Beltway has turned sharply against China. There are many issues where the two parties sound more or less the same. Trump and others in the administration seem heavily invested in a ‘get very tough with China’ stance. It’s possible that some Democrats might argue that a decoupling strategy borders on lunacy. But if Trump believes this will play well with his core constituencies as his reelection campaign moves into high gear, he will probably decide to stick with it, if the costs and the collateral damage seem manageable. But that’s a very big if, especially if the downsides of a protracted trade war for both American consumers and for American firms become increasingly apparent.