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At A Unique Moment In Financial History, Five Takeaways From Fed Chair's Press Conference

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The world is at an historic financial economic crossroads. The United States, the world’s most influential economic power, is recovering from the pandemic and complications added, as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With all that happening, as is customarily done every two months, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank, Jerome Powell, conducted a 45-minute press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, fielding more than two dozen questions from the free world’s best economic journalists. Here’s a summary of what the Federal Reserve chairman said today affecting investment decisions.

1. Fractional 2023 Growth. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which decides the level of interest rates, expects fractional growth, but not a recession in 2023. Mr. Powell said his base case is that inflation will return to 2% without a significant downturn or big increase in unemployment.

2. Inflation Fight Not Over. It’s the early stages of disinflation. Goods inflation shows clear signs of being beaten but key services have not even begun to show signs of disinflation. That’s going to take months. Specifically, the core services excluding-housing component of the Fed’s favored inflation indicator, the Personal Consumption Expend Deflator (PCED) needs to come down before central bank tightening will stop.

3. Strong Warning Against Defaulting. “There’s only one way forward here, and that is for Congress to raise the debt ceiling so that the United States government can pay all of its obligations when due,” said Mr. Powell. “And any deviations from that path would be highly risky, and that no one should assume that the Fed can protect the economy from the consequences of failing to act in a timely manner.”

4. A Unique Moment. “This is not a standard business cycle, where you can look at the last 10 times there was a global pandemic, and we shut the economy down, and Congress did what it did,” Mr. Powell said. “It’s just…it’s unique. I think certainty is just not appropriate here.”

5. It’s Complicated. Federal Reserve chairmen traditionally did not speak about policy stance of the central bank, leaving investors to figure it out over time. In the last 50 years, Fed chairs began to speak in cryptic terms about current policy. In 2006, Ben Bernanke changed Fed transparency, and Janet Yellen and Mr. Powell have followed his lead by conducting press conferences every two months and speaking plainly. Which highlights a new challenge in interpreting the Fed chair’s policy pronouncements at press conferences: It’s complicated. Consider this quote from Mr. Powell the Feb. 1, 2023 : “Again, we don’t see it (rate hikes) affecting the services sector ex-housing yet. But I mean I think our assessment is that we’re not very far from that level. We don’t know that though, we don’t know that. So, I think we’re, you know, we’re living in a world of significant uncertainty.” Mr. Powell is trying not to be cryptic but explaining Fed policy presents a new challenge. Being transparent about complexities at a live press conference is hard.

Nothing contained herein is to be considered a solicitation, research material, an investment recommendation, or advice of any kind, and it is subject to change without notice. Any investments or strategies referenced herein do not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person. Product suitability must be independently determined for each individual investor. Tax advice always depends on your particular personal situation and preferences. You should consult the appropriate financial professional regarding your specific circumstances.
The material represents an assessment of financial, economic and tax law at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance, or achievements may differ materially from those expressed or implied. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete, and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions.
This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Advisor Products and is not intended as legal or investment advice.


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This article was written by a professional financial journalist for The Capital Group and is not intended as legal or investment advice.

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