It may not get a lot of attention outside Wall Street given the news the president is making today on U.S.-Cuba relations, but the Federal Reserve Board’s final policy statement of 2014 today, along with Janet Yellen’s explanatory press conference, could be a very big deal. The deflation-monkeys who influence equity markets are anticipating that the Fed will signal a 2015 interest rate hike by removing two words from its past formulation of short-term intentions. CNBC’s Ron Insana explains:
Will the Fed remove “considerable time” from the description of how long they intend to keep short-term interest rates at the so-called “zero bound?” The removal of those words would, to many observers, signal the Fed’s intention to start raising interest rates sometime in the middle of 2015, assuming the economy continues to gather momentum, unemployment continues to fall, and inflation begins to move toward the Fed’s intended target of 2 percent, the last of which is least likely.
Given the crash in commodities, slowing global growth, turmoil in emerging markets and real troubles in oil-dependent nations, the Fed may surprise the world by maintaining the verbiage that has kept a floor under asset prices and assured markets that no influences, inside, or outside, the U.S. will keep the Fed from meeting its dual mandate of maximum sustainable employment and stable prices, which today means gently rising inflation.
That is not, however, the consensus expectation. For those to whom the seven deadly sins are inflation, inflation, inflation, inflation, inflation, inflation and inflation, the greatest Christmas present imaginable for the Fed would involve sugar-plum visions of an economic slowdown and maybe even a good, bracing, morally-uplifting recession to remind the serfs they survive at the mercy of the investor class. I can only hope Yellen resists the treacherous game of trying to placate these people with excessively cautious language.