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Editor’s note: When this post was first published, the placement of the shaded confidence intervals in the charts was incorrect; the charts have been corrected. (December 3, 2018, 3:20 p.m.)
We had previously documented large excess returns on equities ahead of scheduled announcements of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)—the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy-making body—between 1994 and 2011. This post updates our original analysis with more recent data. We find evidence of continued large excess returns during FOMC meetings, but only for those featuring a press conference by the Chair of the FOMC.
Today marks the launch of the monthly publication of the Underlying Inflation Gauge (UIG). We are reporting two UIG measures, described recently on Liberty Street Economics, that are constructed to provide an estimate of the trend, or persistent, component of inflation. One measure is derived using a large number of disaggregated price series in the consumer price index (CPI), while the second measure incorporates additional information from macroeconomic and financial variables.
Following the June 18-19 Federal Open Market
Committee (FOMC) meeting different measures of short-term interest rates
increased notably. In the chart below, we plot two such measures: the two-year
Treasury yield and the one-year overnight indexed swap (OIS) forward rate, one
year in the future. The vertical line indicates the final day of the June FOMC
meeting. To what extent did this rise in rates following the June FOMC meeting
reflect a shift in the expected future path of the federal funds rate (FFR)?
Market participants and policy makers often directly read the expected path
from financial market data such as the OIS contracts. In this post, we take an
alternative approach by looking at surveys of professional forecasters to
assess how expectations changed.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement released on August 9, 2011, was the first to incorporate language on “forward guidance” with an explicit date tied to the Committee’s expected path of monetary policy. In this post, we exploit the timing of surveys taken before and after this statement’s release to investigate how professional forecasters changed their expectations of growth, inflation, and monetary policy. We find that the average forecast of the federal funds rate shifts considerably and closely aligns with the new language in the statement, while the average forecasts for growth and inflation change less. While there’s near unanimity among forecasters about the future path of the federal funds rate after the August 2011 FOMC statement, forecasters maintained differing views on the growth and inflation outlooks.
the Federal Reserve was founded in 1913, the Federal Open
Market Committee, or FOMC,
wasn’t created until passage of the Banking Act of
Congress established the name and legal structure of the FOMC as a formal
committee of the twelve Reserve Banks. In 1935, a System reorganization added
the seven-member Board of Governors to the twelve Reserve Bank presidents—uniting
the centralized and decentralized components of the Fed. In the Banking Act of 1935,
Congress mandated that only five of the twelve Reserve Bank presidents would
vote at any one time, along with the seven governors. The first FOMC meeting
convened a year later, in March 1936.
Many economic time series display periodic and predictable patterns within each calendar year, generally referred to as seasonal effects. For example, retail sales tend to be higher in December than in other months. These patterns are well-known to economists, who apply statistical filters to remove seasonal effects so that the resulting series are more easily comparable across months. Because policy decisions are based on seasonally adjusted series, we wouldn’t expect the decisions to exhibit any seasonal behavior. Yet, in this post we find that the Federal Reserve has been much more likely to lower interest rates in the first month of each quarter over the past twenty-five years. While some of this seasonality is a result of meeting scheduling, a large seasonal component remains unexplained.
For many years, economists have struggled to explain the “equity premium puzzle”—the fact that the average return on stocks is larger than what would be expected to compensate for their riskiness. In this post, which draws on our recent New York Fed staff report, we deepen the puzzle further. We show that since 1994, more than 80 percent of the equity premium on U.S. stocks has been earned over the twenty-four hours preceding scheduled Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announcements (which occur only eight times a year)—a phenomenon we call the pre-FOMC announcement “drift.”
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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