Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wednesday: Existing Home Sales, Bernanke Testimony and more

by Calculated Risk on 5/21/2013 08:37:00 PM

From Tim Duy at Economist'sView: Fed Watch: And Then There is Bernanke. Duy discusses the various Fed speeches this week and concludes:

So many voices, so many views. Looking through the noise, I think there is strong interest in tapering QE now that we have a string of job reports pointing to substantial and sustainable improvement in labor markets, but, given the fiscal contraction, little willingness to pull the trigger on tapering until we see another two or three similar reports. On net, I think disinflation concerns will move to the back-burner as long as inflation expectations are stable.

Still, at the same time, the Fed wants to keep its options open, as they are very much cognizant that past efforts to pull back on easing have been premature. Hence the talk that future moves could be up or down, which is really just plain confusing because why would the Fed even begin tapering if they thought there was a reasonable chance of having to reverse course the next month? It is even more confusing given that some officials seem to care about inflation, but others labor markets. The former says more purchases, arguably the latter says less. And I am not sure they have a consensus view of what would be the pace of tapering even if they all could agree on the forecast and relevant indicators. No wonder communications is a problem. Back to Dudley:
An important challenge for us will be to think carefully about what combination of actions and communications will best ensure that when we do eventually judge that it is appropriate to begin normalizing policy, the initial tightening of financial market conditions is commensurate to what we desire. There is a risk is that market participants could overreact to any move in the process of normalization.
It seems that lacking a more clear, consistent framework for the exit from quantitative easing, the risk of miscommunication is high. Hence, we are all looking toward tomorrow's speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to provide the clarity that appears very much needed.
Wednesday economic releases:
• At 9:55 AM ET, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

• At 10:00 AM, Existing Home Sales for April from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The consensus is for sales of 5.00 million on seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) basis. Sales in March were at a 4.92 million SAAR. Economist Tom Lawler is estimating the NAR will report a April sales rate of 5.03 million.

• Also at 10:00 AM, Testimony by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Economic Outlook, Before the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress

• At 2:00 PM, the FOMC Minutes for Meeting of April 30-May 1, 2013 will be released.

• During the day, the AIA's Architecture Billings Index for April (a leading indicator for commercial real estate).