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How Powell "the Un-Volcker" is remaking the Fed

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Jerome Powell may turn out to be the Un-Volcker Fed Chair. Paul Volcker wrung all the inflation expectations out of the system and convinced everyone that the Fed is an inflation hawk. By contrast, Jerome Powell is attempting a mirror image policy of convincing everyone the Fed is an inflation dove.

A considerable gulf has opened up between the Fed’s stated monetary policy path and the market’s expectations. Ed Yardeni recently conducted a LinkedIn poll of interest rate expectations. While the poll is unscientific in its methodology, the results roughly parallel market expectations that the Fed would begin to raise rates in late 2022, and raise them several times in 2023. By contrast, the Fed’s own Summary of Economic Projections doesn’t see any rate hike until late 2023.

Fed governor Lael Brainard appeared on CNBC soon after the release of the Fed minutes and she addressed the issue of the market’s disbelief of Fed’s interest rate path by distinguishing between outcome and outlook. The Fed is focused on the realized outcome of employment and inflation. The market is focused on expectations, whose forecasts may not be realized.
Here is why it matters, not only for the path of interest rates but how the Fed’s outcome-based approach affects the economy and equity prices.
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