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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.
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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