S&P futures, now clearly in widespread panic liquidation mode and searching for any excuse to sell off more, found one just after 2pm when Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the US economy may be entering a “new normal” following disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We continue to deal with an exceptionally unusual set of disruptions,” Powell told business and community leaders Friday at a Fed Listens event in Washington, Bloomberg reported. Algos immediately took this as confirmation that the supply chain chaos that defined the post-Covid world is still prevalent in the Fed's thinking, and since it is inflationary, it means even more rate hikes on deck.
In his brief welcoming marks, Powell didn’t discuss the outlook for interest rates or offer more specifics on the economic outlook, but to algos even his briefest remarks were sufficient to trigger yet another liquidation cascade, with the TICK puking near session lows.
US consumer prices rose 8.3% in the 12 months through August and officials have vowed to cool them even if that means causing harm to the US economy and its workers. Officials couch this as an effort to slow excess demand and put the labor market back into “balance” -- a euphemism that glosses over the fact many people could lose their jobs in the process. The labor market has so far remained remained strong, with unemployment at 3.7%, but policy makers this week forecast that would rise to around 4.4% next year as they continue to raise interest rates.
Fed Listens events have been held around the US since 2019 as the central bank sought public input on a review of its approach to monetary policy. That overhaul was completed in 2021 but the Fed has kept them going to maintain public engagement at a time when its actions remain front-page news.