Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Federal Reserve System

Stock Market Faces Lingering Perils in 2022

Business
In response to the coronavirus, the Fed created trillions of dollars out of thin air, Congress doled out trillions more, and the pandemic provided a tacit guarantee that interest rates wouldn’t rise. If Omicron means a return to regular order, investors will have to contend with the highest inflation in a generation, record fiscal debt and a Fed lacking a reason not to tackle inflation forcefully. At the same time, stocks and bonds are very expensive, limiting prudent investment options.“There’s no place to hide,” Melda Mergen, global head of equities at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said during a presentation of the firm’s 2022 outlook. “Most of the markets are at the top of the bar in their current valuations.”She remains bullish toward stocks but emphasizes pockets that are less ex...

CPI December 2021: Inflation Jumped at Fastest Pace Since 1982

Business
Inflation climbed to its highest level in 40 years at the end of 2021, a troubling development for President Biden and economic policymakers as rapid price gains erode consumer confidence and cast a shadow of uncertainty over the economy’s future.The Consumer Price Index climbed 7 percent in the year through December, and 5.5 percent after stripping out volatile prices such as food and fuel. The last time the main inflation index eclipsed 7 percent was 1982.Policymakers have spent months waiting for inflation to fade, hoping supply chain problems might ease and allow companies to catch up with booming consumer demand. Instead, continued waves of the coronavirus have locked down factories, and shipping companies have struggled to work through extended backlogs as consumers continue to buy f...
Jerome Powell Says Fed Is Prepared to Raise Rates to Tame Inflation

Jerome Powell Says Fed Is Prepared to Raise Rates to Tame Inflation

Business
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, told lawmakers on Tuesday that a rapidly healing economy no longer needed as much help from the central bank and that keeping inflation in check — including by raising interest rates — would be critical for enabling a stable expansion that benefited workers.Mr. Powell, whom President Biden recently nominated for a second term as chair, is confronting a complicated economic moment as he moves toward another four-year stint as head of the world’s most powerful central bank. He provided his latest thoughts on the Fed’s challenge during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.The economy is growing swiftly, but it has been buffeted by repeated waves of the coronavirus and by a surge in inflation that has proved stronger and long...

December Jobs Report: U.S. Added 199,000 Jobs

Business
“We’re all sort of at the whims of these variants and surges in cases, and it’s hard to know when they might strike,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Any sort of projections or outlook on the pace of gains over the next year or so is still dependent on the virus.”Employment levels are still depressed compared with the period before the pandemic, even as job openings remain remarkably high by historical standards. The economy has added 18.8 million jobs since April 2020 — when pandemic-related lockdowns were at their peak — but still has 3.6 million fewer positions than in February 2020.Part of the worker shortage may reflect retirement decisions prompted by the pandemic. Some people may be waiting to go back when health risks from the virus are le...

A Fed Official’s 2020 Trade Drew Outcry. It Went Further Than First Disclosed.

Business
Richard H. Clarida, the departing vice chair of the Federal Reserve, failed to initially disclose the extent of a financial transaction he made in early 2020 as the Fed was preparing to swoop in and rescue markets amid the unfolding pandemic.Mr. Clarida previously came under fire for buying shares on Feb. 27 in an investment fund that holds stocks — one day before the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, announced that the central bank stood ready to help the economy as the pandemic set in. The transaction drew an outcry from lawmakers and watchdog groups because it put Mr. Clarida in a position to benefit as the Fed restored market confidence.Mr. Clarida’s recently amended financial disclosure showed that the vice chair sold that same stock fund on Feb. 24, at a moment when financial markets were...
Fed Officials Discussed Raising Rates Sooner and Faster, Minutes Show

Fed Officials Discussed Raising Rates Sooner and Faster, Minutes Show

Business
The minutes showed that both considerations weighed on policymakers’ minds as they considered their future actions, but as the labor market has healed swiftly, they have begun turning their attention decisively toward the threat of too-high inflation. The Fed is tasked with two main jobs, fostering maximum employment and keeping prices relatively stable.“Several participants remarked that they viewed labor market conditions as already largely consistent with maximum employment,” the minutes said. At the same time, some officials noted that it might be smart to raise rates even if the job market was not fully recovered if inflation showed signs of jumping out of control.“It does cement that they’re definitely pivoting strongly toward rate hikes,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P....
Fed’s Moves in 2022 Could End the Stock Market’s Pandemic Run

Fed’s Moves in 2022 Could End the Stock Market’s Pandemic Run

Business
For two years, the stock market has been largely able to ignore the lived reality of Americans during the pandemic — the mounting coronavirus cases, the loss of lives and livelihoods, the lockdowns — because of underlying policies that kept it buoyant.Investors can now say goodbye to all that.Come 2022, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates to fight inflation, and government programs meant to stimulate the economy during the pandemic will have ended. Those policy changes will cause investors, businesses and consumers to behave differently, and their actions will eventually take some air out of the stock market, according to analysts.“It’s going to be the first time in almost two years that the Fed’s incremental decisions might force investors or consumers to become a litt...

PCE Index Hit Highest Level in November Since 1982

Business
Whether the 2021 price burst teaches households to expect higher inflation going forward is critically important. From the Fed’s perspective, there is a risk that climbing inflation expectations could touch off an upward spiral in wages and prices, as people seek bigger raises to cover their climbing costs.For the Biden administration, inflation worries threaten to unsettle voters, who are unhappy about paying more to get by.Inflation F.A.Q.Card 1 of 6What is inflation? Inflation is a loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation costs and toys.What causes inflation? It can be the result of rising co...

Lingering Virus, Lasting Inflation: A Fed Official Explains Her Pivot

Business
SAN FRANCISCO — Mary C. Daly was in line behind a woman in her neighborhood Walgreens in Oakland, Calif., this fall when she witnessed an upsetting consequence of inflation. The shopper, who was older, was shuffling uncomfortably as the clerk rang up her items.“She starts ruffling in her pockets, and in her purse,” Ms. Daly said in an interview. “And she says: This is a lot more expensive than it usually is. I buy these things — these are my monthly purchases.”The woman had to put something back — she chose potato chips — because she couldn’t afford everything in her basket.It would have been sobering to watch for anyone, but the moment hit especially hard for Ms. Daly, who is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. As one of the Fed’s 18 top officials, she is one of the pe...
Fed Could Raise Rates 3 Times in 2022 and Speeds End of Bond-Buying

Fed Could Raise Rates 3 Times in 2022 and Speeds End of Bond-Buying

Business
Federal Reserve policymakers moved into inflation-fighting mode on Wednesday, saying they would cut back more quickly on their pandemic-era stimulus at a moment of rising prices and strong economic growth, capping a challenging year with a policy shift that could usher in higher interest rates in 2022.The central bank’s policy statement set up a more rapid end to the monthly bond-buying program that the Fed has been using throughout the pandemic to keep money chugging through markets and to bolster growth. A fresh set of economic projections released on Wednesday showed that officials expect to raise interest rates, which are now set near-zero, three times next year.“Economic developments and changes in the outlook warrant this evolution,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said of the decis...