Must-Read: Correct, IMHO, from the very sharp Narayana Kocherlakota. Now perhaps his successor Neel Kashkari and the other Reserve Bank presidents not named Charlie Evans might give him some back up?
The one thing I do not like is Narayana’s “Granted, there is a risk that such steps will spook markets by signaling that the Fed is concerned about the state of the U.S. financial system.” That sentence seems to me to misread market psychology completely. As I see it–and as the people in markets I talk to say–right now markets are fairly completely spooked by their belief that the Federal Reserve is unconcerned, and takes that lack of concern as a sign of Federal Reserve detachment from reality. Narayana’s following sentences seems to me to be highly likely to be the right take: “I’d say the markets are already pretty spooked” and “By demonstrating that it is paying attention to these obvious signals, the Fed can help to bolster confidence in its economic management”.
Let me stress that, at least from where I sit, that confidence in Federal Reserve economic management is, right now, lacking.
The people I talk to in financial markets tend to say that they believe markets took Stan Fischer on January 5 to be something of a wake-up call with respect to Fed groupthink:
Liesman: When I looked at where the market is priced, the market is priced below where the Fed median forecast is. Quite a bit. Two rate hikes really, if you count them in quarter points. Does that concern you that the market needs to catch up with where the Fed is or is it a matter of you think the Fed needs to recalibrate to where the market is?
Fischer: Well, we watch what the market thinks, but we can’t be led by what the market thinks. We’ve got to make our own analysis. We make our own analysis and our analysis says that the market is underestimating where we are going to be. You know, you can’t rule out that there is some probability they are right because there’s uncertainty. But we think that they are too low.
For eight straight years now the Federal Reserve has been more optimistic than the markets. And for eight straight years now the markets have been closer to being correct. And yet the Federal Reserve still believes that it “can’t be led by what the market thinks” and has “got to make our own analysis”? Why?
Three Antidotes to the Brexit Crisis: “The Fed should ensure that banks have enough loss-absorbing equity capital…:
…not allow them to return equity to shareholders…. The measure should apply to all banks, so markets won’t read it as a signal about individual institutions’ relative strength. Second, there’s a risk that investors’ flight to safe assets could develop into a broader credit freeze. To mitigate this, the Fed should lower its short-term interest-rate target…. Finally, the Fed should consider reviving the Term Auction Facility, which allows banks to borrow funds from the central bank with less of the stigma…. Granted, there is a risk that such steps will spook markets by signaling that the Fed is concerned about the state of the U.S. financial system. That said, as an outsider who gets much of his information from Twitter, I’d say the markets are already pretty spooked. By demonstrating that it is paying attention to these obvious signals, the Fed can help to bolster confidence in its economic management. One important lesson of the last financial crisis is that the guarantors of stability must be proactive if they want to be effective. It’s time for the Fed to put that lesson into practice.