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In response to disorderly market conditions in mid-March 2020, the Federal Reserve began an asset purchase program designed to improve market functioning in the Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) markets. The 2020 purchases have no parallel, but there are several instances of large SOMA purchases undertaken to support Treasury market functions in earlier decades. This post recaps three such episodes, one in 1939 at the start of World War II, one in 1958 in connection with a poorly received Treasury financing, and a third in 1970, also in connection with a Treasury financing. The three episodes, together with the more recent intervention, demonstrate the Fed’s long-standing and continuing commitment to the maintenance of orderly market functioning in markets where it conducts monetary policy operations—formerly limited to the Treasury market, but now also including the agency MBS market.
Michael Fleming, Asani Sarkar, and Peter Van Tassel
The Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented actions to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. households and businesses. These measures include cutting the Fed’s policy rate to the zero lower bound, purchasing Treasury and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to promote market functioning, and establishing several liquidity and credit facilities. In this post, we briefly review the developments motivating these actions, summarize what the Fed has done and why, and compare the Fed’s response with its response to the 2007-09 financial crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the Federal Reserve to pledge to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amount needed to support the smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to the economy. But some market participants have questioned whether something more might not be required, including possibly some form of direct yield curve control. In the first half of the 1940s the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sought to manage the level and shape of the Treasury yield curve. In this post, we examine what can be learned from the FOMC’s efforts of seventy-five years ago.
By November 2008, the Global Financial Crisis, which originated in the residential housing market and the shadow banking system, had begun to turn into a major recession, spurring the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to initiate what we now refer to as quantitative easing (QE). In this blog post, we draw upon the empirical findings of post-crisis academic research–including our own work–to shed light on the question: Did QE work?
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.
Richard K. Crump, Stefano Eusepi, and Emanuel
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.
Richard K. Crump, Stefano Eusepi, and Emanuel Moench
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.
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.
Liberty Street Economics does not publish new posts during the blackout periods surrounding Federal Open Market Committee meetings.
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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