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Fedwatch: How much high a pressure can the economy handle?

Monday, October 31, 2016 14:41
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Ever since Janet Yellen made that her “high pressured economy” speech, market analysts have been scrambling to understand what she meant by that term. The Fed Chair used that term in the context of a research conference held at the Boston Fed. So was it an academic musing, or was it a hint of a subtle shift in Fed policy?

The chart below shows the number of instances in the last 12 months when Core PCE has exceeded 2%, which is the Fed’s inflation target. As the chart shows, the FOMC has tended to start a tightening cycle whenever the rolling count has hit six. The only exception occurred in 2011, when Europe mired in a Greek debt crisis.


The latest September Core PCE reading, which was released today, came in an annualized 1.7%, which was short of the 2% target. With the current count at five and therefore nearing the threshold for a tightening cycle, the question of the degree of tolerance for higher pressure in an economy is an important issue for monetary policy.

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