Fed policymakers take on a cautious language on policy outlook

Source Fxstreet
May 21, 2024 11:13
  • Fed policymakers' comments on policy outlook will be scrutinized by investors this week.
  • Markets see a waning probability of a Fed policy hold in September.
  • Fed rate outlook could influence the US Dollar's performance against its major rivals.

Federal Reserve (Fed) policymakers are scheduled to deliver speeches throughout this week as investors reassess the interest rate outlook following the April Consumer Price Index (CPI) data. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, the probability of a no change in the Fed's policy rate in September holds around 35%.

Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin, Fed Governor Christopher Waller, NY Fed President John Williams, Boston Fed President Susan Collins and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester are among the Fed officials that are set to speak on Tuesday.

The Fed has adopted a cautious tone regarding the timing of the policy pivot following the stronger-than-expected inflation readings in the first quarter of the year. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on May 15 that the core Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.6% on a yearly basis in April. This reading followed the 3.8% increase recorded in March and came in line with the market expectation. On a monthly basis, the CPI and the core CPI both rose 0.3% after rising 0.4% in March. The US Dollar (USD) came under bearish pressure as market participants assessed the inflation data and the USD Index fell to its lowest level in over a month, losing over 0.7% on a weekly basis.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly noted on Monday that, while she expects shelter inflation to slowly improve, she said that she doesn't expect progress to be quick. Fed's Daly also noted that she is not confident that inflation is sustainably coming down to the Fed's 2% inflation target.

Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr said that the Fed is in a good position to hold the policy steady and watch the economy, per Reuters. Meanwhile, Fed Vice Chair of the Board of Governors Phillip Jefferson acknowledged that April's better inflation reading was encouraging and added that it was too early to tell if the recent slowdown in disinflationary process will be long-lasting.

Last week, Fed Board of Governors member Michelle Bowman said that progress on inflation may not be as consistent as many hoped. Cleveland Fed President Mester emphasized that maintaining the current levels of Fed policy will aid in returning still-elevated inflation to the 2% target. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin told CNBC last Thursday that the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data showed that inflation was not where the Fed is trying to get. Finally, New York Fed President Williams argued that there was no need for a rate cut in the near term.

Fed FAQs

Monetary policy in the US is shaped by the Federal Reserve (Fed). The Fed has two mandates: to achieve price stability and foster full employment. Its primary tool to achieve these goals is by adjusting interest rates. When prices are rising too quickly and inflation is above the Fed’s 2% target, it raises interest rates, increasing borrowing costs throughout the economy. This results in a stronger US Dollar (USD) as it makes the US a more attractive place for international investors to park their money. When inflation falls below 2% or the Unemployment Rate is too high, the Fed may lower interest rates to encourage borrowing, which weighs on the Greenback.

The Federal Reserve (Fed) holds eight policy meetings a year, where the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) assesses economic conditions and makes monetary policy decisions. The FOMC is attended by twelve Fed officials – the seven members of the Board of Governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and four of the remaining eleven regional Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis.

In extreme situations, the Federal Reserve may resort to a policy named Quantitative Easing (QE). QE is the process by which the Fed substantially increases the flow of credit in a stuck financial system. It is a non-standard policy measure used during crises or when inflation is extremely low. It was the Fed’s weapon of choice during the Great Financial Crisis in 2008. It involves the Fed printing more Dollars and using them to buy high grade bonds from financial institutions. QE usually weakens the US Dollar.

Quantitative tightening (QT) is the reverse process of QE, whereby the Federal Reserve stops buying bonds from financial institutions and does not reinvest the principal from the bonds it holds maturing, to purchase new bonds. It is usually positive for the value of the US Dollar.

 

Disclaimer: For information purposes only. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
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