When the sun rises on December 19th, I believe there’s an even chance that the Federal Reserve will have announced that they’ll begin tapering their bond-buying program that began in September 2012. I’d put 50/50 odds on an announcement of tapering their US$85 billion per month program of quantitative easing, and there are several fundamental reasons that back up my beliefs.
The potential federal budget deal that arose late in the day on Tuesday, December 10 between House and Senate negotiators is the most recent, albeit least important, piece of evidence paving the way for a December taper. Read more
Tapering is coming. And markets know it. The mere thought that tapering of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) program was due in September was enough to push many markets and currencies (especially emerging markets) significantly lower. So the question arises for the occasion of the actual tapering that’s likely to begin in 2014: have markets already reacted to tapering or is there more to come? Read more
At their September meeting, the Federal Reserve surprised markets by maintaining their program of monthly Treasury and agency MBS purchases. So the taper is again “on hold.” Our economist Robin Anderson looks at the Fed’s decision and examines what it means for the markets.
169,000 new jobs in August. Sounds pretty good…unless you were expecting 180,000. Combine that with June and July gains getting revised down by 16,000 and 58,000, respectively…and you get something that falls somewhere between ‘super tepid’ and ‘lackluster.’ So, when the Federal Reserve meets next week, what will they think about jobs numbers and how will that affect their tendency toward tapering?
Year-to-date average monthly payroll gains sit at 180,250. That’s lower than the average in 2012, and more importantly, it’s lower than the rate of 200,000 that some FOMC members would prefer to see before cutting the pace of bond purchases. Of the combined June-July revisions (-74,000), an unusually high amount (over half) came from local government – mostly education. Read more
For those involved in trading the fixed income markets, August is usually one of the more mundane months. Issuance of new corporate debt slows down significantly since many global investment professionals are on vacation, forced two-week leaves, or holidays, which results in liquidity that is much more challenging. But unlike past years, we’re entering into a September time frame that is poised to be anything but boring, thus causing a likely increase in volatility. So just like the coming attractions at your local movie theater, this is what we have to look forward to in the month of September:
Specific events and their release date:
“The Last Picture Show” (September 6) – On this Friday, the final major piece of the employment puzzle, the August non-farm payrolls, will be released to the market. This will either confirm the prevailing wisdom regarding the underlying strength of the U.S. economy and the likelihood of tapering of the Fed’s quantitative easing program, or it will provide a difficult conflicting perspective only days before the FOMC meeting. Read more
In a recent economic commentary (here’s the link), Bob Baur and I examined the pros and cons of the two top candidates to succeed Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve: Janet Yellen and Larry Summers. Today, I’d like to use this blog post to examine a few different avenues where Yellen and Summers might differ were each to get the Fed’s top job.
The first way I’d look at this would be from their respective statements on Fed policy. Almost everything we’ve heard from Yellen suggests that she’ll be Spider-Man 2 to Bernanke’s Spider-Man…more of the same, still pretty good, but not saddled with the task of having to explain how this all started. Summers is harder to read. Read more
I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
Alan Greenspan said it, but it certainly captures what current Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, has to be thinking. In his efforts to be open and transparent, Bernanke has struggled over recent weeks to make himself understood. Markets reacted to talk of tapering the bond-buying QE program as if the Fed had announced that it would be hiking the fed funds rate to 5% by Labor Day. So since the last Fed meeting, Bernanke and several Fed governors have been in the public eye trying to clarify that “tapering” is not “tightening.”
With the release of the latest FOMC meeting’s minutes (available here), and echoed in his speech on July 10 (text here), we saw a bit more clarity that’s meant to ease markets back towards Bernanke’s intended message. Two key points that you can pull from the recent Fed communications: Read more
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