FOMC Preview

January 30, 2019

The first rule of Federal Reserve chairmen when wearing their communicator-in-chief hat is to do no harm.¬†Chairman Powell failed that test at December’s press conference by placing a very positive spin on U.S. economic trends and appearing not to back away from a baseline expectation that the a couple more interest rate hikes in 2019 would be appropriate. He did this in spite of market moves that suggested that investors believed otherwise. The U.S. stock market, the world price of oil and interest rates had each fallen sharply since the FOMC had met previously in early November, and the disconnection between Powell’s remarks and investor perceptions initially intensified market unease.

To be fair, Powell is still comparatively new to this role and the public may be giving him a shorter leash because he was a Trump appointee and not a trained economist. The last Fed Chairman not to have done graduate work in economics, G. William Miller from early 1977 to August 1978 had done disastrously as inflation accelerated. Even the president had turned on Powell, as he has on many of his initial appointees.

Powell didn’t wait until today’s meeting to modify his message, shifting his emphasis in subsequent public speeches away from extolling how wonderfully the U.S. economy is performing to stressing that the Federal Reserve will and can act very patiently as it ponders further rate normalization because inflation remains very low. A further shift in today’s released statement from the one on December 19th may occur — even if only to make such more in line with the somewhat more even-handed¬†minutes of the December meeting. It will be interesting, for instance, to see if any adjustment has been made to the planned pace of balance sheet reduction. For better or worse, Powell also gets another crack at doing a press conference today. Until last year, press conferences were scheduled only after alternating FOMC meetings, aligned with the release of updated macroeconomic forecasts that are done in the final month of each calendar quarter. But in the interest of achieving greater policy transparency, it was announced in December that a press conference will be held from now on after all eight FOMC meetings each calendar year.

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

11/01/17

12/13/17

01/31/18

03/21/18

05/02/18

06/13/18

08/01/18

09/26/18

11/08/18

12/19/18

01/30/19

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

1.2010

1.1631

1.1815

1.2424

1.2271

1.1963

1.1788

1.1668

1.1765

1.1400

1.1420

1.1420

 

 

 

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

111.34

113.91

112.58

109.31

106.27

109.91

110.38

111.69

112.94

113.88

112.26

109.62

 

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

2.35

2.34

2.73

2.89

2.97

2.96

2.99

3.08

3.23

2.81

2.72

17583

16002

17217

18013

17675

18461

18151

17989

19915

19890

20885

20920

21375

21711

22376

23405

24585

26259

24839

24095

25309

25310

26543

26195

23881

24835

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

50.55

54.24

56.60

64.41

65.00

67.57

66.77

67.62

71.68

60.93

47.80

53.87

Copyright 2019, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.

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