Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jackson Hole
Central bankers like to get together on a regular basis at nice locales. They do so every year in late August at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This annual conference brings together the top honchos of the major central banks. They tend to focus their discussions on the hot issues of the day. This year’s topic is “Re-Evaluating Labor Market Dynamics.” The program for the August 21-23 meeting will be posted today at 6 p.m., MT. Last year’s topic was “Global Dimensions of Unconventional Monetary Policy.”

On Wednesday, Bloomberg’s Simon Kennedy reported:
Every time then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke spoke at the annual monetary policy symposium in the shadow of Wyoming’s Teton mountains since 2007, stocks rallied. With Janet Yellen set to make her first speech to the conference as central bank chief on Aug. 22, investors may be setting themselves up for a fall, according to Steven Englander, global head of G-10 foreign exchange strategy at Citigroup Inc.
Kennedy noted that from 2007 to 2012, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s keynote speech was bullish, with the S&P 500 up an average 1.3% that day. Bernanke skipped last year’s meeting. Englander was quoted as saying that Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech could be a letdown: “We worry that dovishness is increasingly anticipated and that by the time we get to her talk anything less than ‘full dovishness’ will be a disappointment.”

I’m not worried. As I noted yesterday, I expect that the “Fairy Godmother of the Bull Market” won’t let us down. In a June 30, 2009 speech, Yellen said that the lesson of history, particularly of the Great Depression, is that premature monetary tightening can be disastrous. I’m sure she still thinks so, and might very well say so again on Friday.

Yellen is a Yale PhD macroeconomist with particular interest in the labor market. She is also a liberal and believes that the labor market needs all the help it can get from the Fed. I doubt that she picked the topic for discussion at Jackson Hole, but I’m sure the folks at the Kansas City Fed, which has been hosting the conference since 1978, did so to please the boss.

Yellen’s liberal bias was plain to see in the statement issued after the July 30 meeting of the FOMC. It noted: “Labor market conditions improved, with the unemployment rate declining further. However, a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources.” The previous statement following the June 18 meeting noted: “Labor market indicators generally showed further improvement. The unemployment rate, though lower, remains elevated.” This change in wording clearly reflects Yellen’s focus on the negatives rather than the positives in the labor markets.

I believe that American consumers are in better shape than Yellen believes. However, if she insists on helping them out with more ultra-easy money than they really need, then stock investors will continue to benefit as well. Again: Thank you, Fairy Godmother!

ECB President Mario Draghi will follow Yellen with the keynote luncheon address on Friday. It’s unlikely that he will drop any new “whatever-it-takes” bombshells, as he did on July 26, 2012. It’s unlikely that he will hint at the possibility of a Fed-style quantitative easing given the legal issues surrounding this program. Instead, he will most likely stress that the ECB’s recent easing moves, including TLTRO lending to the banks starting next month, should help to revive growth in the Eurozone. Unlike Yellen, he is likely to say that monetary policy can’t fix all of our problems, including structural ones in the labor market.
(Based on an excerpt from YRI Morning Briefing)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.