Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Duy: "While We Wait For Yet Another FOMC Statement..."

by Bill McBride on 1/28/2015 11:13:00 AM

From Tim Duy: While We Wait For Yet Another FOMC Statement...  Excerpt:

The Fed recognizes that hiking rates prematurely to "give them room" in the next recession is of course self-defeating. They are not going to invite a recession simply to prove they have the tools to deal with another recession.

The reasons the Fed wants to normalize policy are, I fear, a bit more mundane:
1. They believe the economy is approaching a more normal environment with solid GDP growth and near-NAIRU unemployment. They do not believe such an environment is consistent with zero rates.

2. They believe that monetary policy operates with long and variable lags. Consequently, they need to act before inflation hits 2% if they do not want to overshoot their target. And they in fact have no intention of overshooting their target.

3. They do not believe in the secular stagnation story. They do not believe that the estimate of the neutral Fed Funds rate should be revised sharply downward. Hence 25bp, or 50bp, or even 100bp still represents loose monetary policy by their definition.
I am currently of the opinion that there is a reasonable chance the Fed is wrong on the third point, and that they have less room to maneuver than they believe. If so, they will find themselves back at the zero bound in the next recession, very quickly I might add. ...

Whether or not they can maintain their mid-year target is of course the topic du jour. But the logic of those who believe the Fed will not have what it needs in June and thus expect the first hike much later is more convincing than those who argue that they will raise rates due to some pressing need to prepare for the next recession.