Flushed into a tough corner by President Donald Trump’s continuous calls for lower interest rates, Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell didn’t move much from his prior stance. That disappointed investors hoping for some sign of another Fed Funds rate cut. Unsurprisingly, Trump blasted Powell in tweets. (See page 10.)
In a much-watched speech Friday at the Kansas City Fed’s annual central bankers meeting in Jackson Hole, WY, Powell said the Fed would provide stimulus if a global economic slowdown damages the American economy. What he didn’t say was what the market wanted: a clear sign that there would be more rate cuts.
Though Powell didn’t repeat his now-infamous July 31 comments that the Fed’s recent rate cut was merely a “mid-cycle adjustment,” he did not promise additional easing as some investors had hoped.
What’s perhaps worse for investors in terms of hope, Powell went out of his way to warn markets about the limits that monetary stimulus faced. In other words, the Fed cannot magically address business-confidence anxiety or market volatility that derives from trade war uncertainty.“In principle, anything that affects the outlook for employment and inflation could also affect the appropriate stance of monetary policy, and that could ...