The Fed’s Upcoming Judgment Calls

The decisions facing the Fed are getting more difficult. A year ago, persistently high inflation readings made it clear that the Fed was way behind the curve in getting control of inflation and there was consensus that aggressive tightening was needed. In response, as shown in the chart below, the Fed raised its target for … Continue reading The Fed’s Upcoming Judgment Calls

The Fight Against Inflation: Where Are We Now?

The Fed’s fight against inflation proceeded through 2022. During the year, the Fed raised its target for the federal funds rate seven times, lifting the target from 0 percent to 4.25 percent (these interest rates are at the lower ends of a ¼ percent range). In its most recent projections in mid-December, the Fed projected … Continue reading The Fight Against Inflation: Where Are We Now?

The Inflation Battle: Is the Fed Close to the Finish Line?

Recent labor market and inflation data and comments from Fed officials have done little to clarify the trajectory of Fed interest rate policy. Indeed, the rift between the views of market participants and Fed officials appears to have widened. Market participants read the consumer price data for November, released at the time of the Fed’s … Continue reading The Inflation Battle: Is the Fed Close to the Finish Line?

The U.K.’s Recent Budget Turmoil: The Canary in the Coal Mine

On September 23, the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss, surprised financial markets by announcing a deficit-expanding fiscal package that included large tax cuts and energy subsidies. This announcement triggered concerns by market participants that Britain may be moving onto a path that would result in it being unable to service its … Continue reading The U.K.’s Recent Budget Turmoil: The Canary in the Coal Mine

The Hot Labor Market and Outlook for Fed Policy

Recent data on the labor market, including the October monthly employment report and weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance, indicate that excess demand for labor persists. The extremely tight labor market was an underlying theme of Fed Chair Powell’s press conference on November 2. The chart below shows the excess of job openings over the … Continue reading The Hot Labor Market and Outlook for Fed Policy

Is the Pace of Fed Tightening Slowing Soon?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for September all but guaranteed that the Fed on November 2 will hike the federal funds rate another 75 basis points to 3-3/4 to 4 percent from its current 3 to 3-1/4 percent. As shown in the chart below, headline inflation—the blue line—stayed above 8 percent in September while core … Continue reading Is the Pace of Fed Tightening Slowing Soon?

Fed Policy: Getting Closer

Recent news confirms that the Fed’s job of tightening monetary policy has a ways to go. The September employment report conveyed an ongoing tight labor market and the reluctance of idled workers to return to the labor force—with implications for a continuation of inflationary pressure coming from this market. The most recent report on job … Continue reading Fed Policy: Getting Closer

What Do the August CPI Data Tell Us About the Outlook for Inflation and Fed Policy?

The CPI data for August was not greeted warmly by financial markets, even though there was another drop in headline inflation (measured on a twelve-month basis, the blue line in the chart below). What unnerved market participants was the upturn in core inflation (that removes volatile food and energy prices) after several months of decline … Continue reading What Do the August CPI Data Tell Us About the Outlook for Inflation and Fed Policy?

Chair Powell’s Remarks: What Did He Say—and Why?

On August 26, Fed Chair Powell sent a jolt through financial markets with his remarks delivered to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual central banking conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. What did he say and why did he say it—and is there anything more to be said? The Powell speech was focused on … Continue reading Chair Powell’s Remarks: What Did He Say—and Why?