Goldman's FOMC Statement Post-Mortem
From Jan Hatzius, who needs to coach Yellen much better next time around. Incidentally, this is Goldman's take on the statement and not on Yellen's disastrous press conference.
From Goldman Sachs
BOTTOM LINE: The March Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) indicated a more hawkish path of the policy rate than that seen in the December SEP. The statement included a move toward qualitative guidance, but was roughly neutral on net in our view.
1. The median participant’s forecast for the funds rate (the “dots”) remained at 0.13% at end-2014, but rose 25bp to 1.0% at end-2015 and rose 50bp to 2.25% at end-2016. The median projection for the longer-run rate remained 4.0%. Only two participants expected that the first hike would come in 2016, down from three in December.
2. The Committee adopted qualitative forward guidance by stating that it currently anticipates the fed funds rate to remain in the current 0 to 25 basis point range "for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored." Looking further ahead, the statement indicated that "even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run." In addition, the statement said that "the change in guidance does not indicate any change in the Committee's policy intentions as set forth in recent statements." We see this set of outcomes on the forward guidance as relatively neutral.
3. The assessment of economic conditions noted slower activity in recent months, but partly blamed the weakness on "adverse weather conditions." The assessment of household spending and business fixed investment was changed from "has advanced more quickly" to "continued to advance." The description of inflation and inflation expectations was unchanged.
4. As overwhelmingly expected, the Committee continued to taper the pace of its asset purchases by $10bn to $55bn/month, beginning in April. An accompanying statement on the New York Fed website indicated no other changes to operating parameters.
5. Minneapolis Fed President Kocherlakota lodged a dovish dissent, noting that the Committee did not express its commitment to return inflation to the 2 percent target strongly enough.
6. With regard to participants’ economic projections, the mid-point of the central tendency of the unemployment rate was lowered by 0.25pp to 6.2% in 2014Q4, by 0.2pp to 5.75% in 2015Q4, and by 0.15pp to 5.4% in 2016Q4. In addition, the longer-run or “structural” unemployment rate was lowered 0.1pp to 5.4%. Real GDP growth was lowered to 2.9% in 2014, 3.1% in 2015, 2.75% in 2016, and 2.25% in the longer run. Changes to core and headline PCE inflation projections were minor. The core PCE inflation projection remained at 1.5% at end-2014, rose a touch to 1.85% at end-2015, and remained at 1.9% at end-2016.
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