FOMC Preview

September 20, 2017

Eight weeks have elapsed since the last FOMC meeting at which time committee members signaled that a program of balance sheet normalization would commence “relatively soon.” The assessment of employment growth was upgraded then, but the discussion of economic conditions otherwise was little changed from the previous June 14th meeting. Since the July 26 meeting, the dollar has fallen 2.1% against the euro and over 2.0% on a trade-weighted basis despite a 0.3% uptick against the yen. The DOW has climbed 3.1%, and WTI oil has risen 3.2%. But the 10-year Treasury yield is 5 basis points lower now than then.

Today’s FOMC statement at 18:00 GMT will be followed by updated forecasts and a press conference by Chair Janet Yellen. Previous¬†¬†updated forecasts on growth, unemployment, inflation, and the likely path of policy interest rates were released at the time of the June 14th meeting. The federal funds rate was raised at that time by 25 basis points as it had been done back in March, but a rate hike is not expected this time. The debate among analysts is whether the target, now at 1 to 1.25%, will be hiked a third time this year, most likely in December. The Fed’s dot-plot diagram from June implies a likely third cut in 2017. Strong asset prices and low unemployment suggest that the economy is evolving as assumed, but the inertia of wage and price inflation has troubled some policy-makers, creating an element of doubt regarding a third rate increase this year. Perhaps, the statement will leave a clue to that decision, but more likely officials will prefer flexibility to act or not depending on data over the coming 2-3 months.

A big focus at the press conference will be the coming balance sheet normalization plan. I expect many questions about that. Another area of interest may concern Yellen’s future. Her term ends in January, and Trump hasn’t revealed his choice regarding that succession. Stanley Fisher, Vice Chair of the Fed, is stepping down in October. This abdication 10 months ahead of the end of his term came as a surprise. Fisher is perceived to be more hawkish on interest rates than Yellen and, as former Governor of the Bank of Israel, was quick to re-normalize rates there following the Great Recession. Trump has the opportunity to remake the FOMC in an unusually substantial way if he chooses. Look for Yellen to duck any questions on her future or on Fisher’s impending retirement.

EUR/$ $/JPY 10Y, % DJIA Oil, $
06/30/04 1.2173 109.44 4.63 10396 37.95
06/30/05 1.2090 110.89 3.96 10370 57.00
06/29/06 1.2527 116.07 5.20 11077 73.41
06/28/07 1.3452 123.17 5.10 13456 69.82
08/07/07 1.3749 118.55 4.73 13510 72.27
09/18/07 1.3888 115.75 4.51 13475 81.42
10/31/07 1.4458 115.28 4.42 13873 93.59
12/11/07 1.4682 111.49 4.11 13645 89.78
01/30/08 1.4792 107.31 3.70 12454 91.70
03/18/08 1.5786 98.73 3.41 12257 107.53
04/30/08 1.5562 104.58 3.83 12953 111.54
06/25/08 1.5568 108.37 4.18 11837 133.62
08/05/08 1.5445 108.42 3.97 11484 119.82
09/16/08 1.4144 105.16 3.36 10936 91.18
10/08/08 1.3625 99.87 3.50 9447 87.02
10/29/08 1.2933 97.15 3.81 9145 67.38
12/16/08 1.3790 90.14 2.52 8687 44.14
01/28/09 1.3253 90.01 2.61 8356 42.92
03/18/09 1.3115 98.13 2.94 7340 47.73
04/29/09 1.3331 97.06 3.02 8194 51.05
06/24/09 1.3984 95.43 3.59 8373 68.76
08/12/09 1.4221 96.17 3.71 9366 70.64
09/23/09 1.4779 91.50 3.50 9859 69.13
11/04/09 1.4884 90.75 3.51 9896 80.66
12/16/09 1.4542 89.78 3.56 10478 73.14
01/27/10 1.4045 89.49 3.61 10148 73.31
03/16/10 1.3756 90.64 3.67 10645 81.45
04/28/10 1.3157 94.10 3.75 11043 82.57
06/23/10 1.2284 90.12 3.13 10307 76.50
08/10/10 1.3107 85.85 2.81 10605 79.94
09/21/10 1.3132 85.21 2.66 10747 73.05
11/03/10 1.4059 81.35 2.53 11174 84.59
12/14/10 1.3423 83.37 3.38 11497 88.47
01/26/11 1.3658 82.55 3.41 12001 87.36
03/15/11 1.3969 81.04 3.29 11815 98.09
04/27/11 1.4665 82.63 3.36 12612 112.48
06/22/11 1.4392 80.12 2.97 12175 94.87
08/09/11 1.4234 77.09 2.36 10993 81.76
09/21/11 1.3778 76.34 1.93 11377 86.74
11/02/11 1.3724 78.11 2.03 11805 92.77
12/13/11 1.3067 77.92 1.98 12130 100.20
01/25/12 1.3027 77.96 1.97 12670 98.85
03/13/12 1.3096 82.76 2.08 13044 106.34
04/25/12 1.3226 81.37 1.97 13096 104.13
06/20/12 1.2693 79.28 1.66 12837 83.63
08/01/12 1.2300 78.10 1.49 13028 88.98
09/13/12 1.2895 77.43 1.72 13342 97.60
10/24/12 1.2948 79.75 1.77 13115 85.72
12/12/12 1.3082 83.24 1.70 13325 87.13
01/30/13 1.3584 91.16 2.02 13949 97.63
03/20/13 1.2948 95.65 1.94 14497 92.82
05/01/13 1.3195 97.48 1.62 14740 90.47
06/19/13 1.3364 95.76 2.23 15304 98.38
07/31/13 1.3301 97.92 2.67 15565 105.63
09/18/13 1.3363 98.28 2.76 15606 107.01
10/30/13 1.3764 98.18 2.48 15660 97.42
12/18/13 1.3696 103.81 2.89 16198 98.06
01/29/14 1.3651 102.13 2.73 15719 97.23
03/19/14 1.3918 101.75 2.71 16335 99.96
04/30/14 1.3868 102.11 2.66 16553 99.52
06/18/14 1.3584 101.93 2.61 16892 106.12
07/30/14 1.3372 102.84 2.51 16878 101.45
08/17/14 1.2961 107.60 2.57 17151 94.05
10/29/14 1.2677 108.40 2.33 16956 82.51
12/17/14 1.2409 117.58 2.11 17201 57.85
01/28/15 1.1337 117.77 1.78 17457 44.75
03/18/15 1.0637 120.98 2.05 17733 42.49
04/29/15 1.1164 118.67 2.05 18039 59.16
06/17/15 1.1255 124.22 2.39 17862 59.12
07/29/15 1.1073 123.61 2.29 17720 49.17
09/17/15

10/28/15

1.1334

1.1081

120.86

120.50

2.26

2.07

16778

17687

47.01

45.83

12/16/15

01/27/16

03/16/16

04/27/16

06/14/16

07/27/16

09/21/16

11/02/16

12/14/16

02/01/17

03/15/17

05/03/17

06/14/17

07/25/17

09/20/17

1.0956

1.0874

1.1089

1.1339

1.1205

1.0998

1.1160

1.1099

1.0641

1.0741

1.0638

1.0910

1.1149

1.1735

1.1990

 

121.72

118.48

113.70

111.37

106.15

105.65

100.84

103.33

115.37

113.52

114.48

112.47

111.55

111.17

111.50

 

2.29

2.02

1.99

1.89

1.62

1.53

1.70

1.78

2.45

2.49

2.57

2.30

2.13

2.29

2.24

 

17583

16002

17217

18013

17675

18461

18151

17989

19915

19890

20885

20920

21375

21711

22385

35.95

30.85

37.79

44.89

48.29

41.91

43.44

45.18

51.83

53.33

48.43

47.96

44.71

48.75

50.32

 

Copyright 2017, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.

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