Federal Reserve Chair Powell’s Testimony: The State of Monetary Policy and its Economic Impact
June 21, 2023
Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s biannual monetary policy address to Congress carries extra significance this time, as investors critically assess the outcome of last week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Despite a decision to hold interest rates steady—a move some interpret as a hawkish pause—an additional two hikes are projected for later this year. The consensus among nearly all policymakers leans toward monetary tightening. Yet, Powell views this pause as a chance for the central bank to assess the effect of policy shifts on the wider economy.
The Rigors of Capitol Hill: Interpreting Interest Rates and Economic Metrics
Next on the agenda, Powell is set to answer the Senate Banking Committee’s inquiries at 10 AM ET, followed by his appearance before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday. These sessions aim to understand why Powell decided to halt rate hikes at this juncture and to identify the metrics the central bank continues to monitor following one of history’s most rapid rate hike campaigns. It’s noteworthy that inflation is currently significantly above the Fed’s 2% target, while the labor market is tighter than usual by historical standards.
Unfazed Market Responses to the FOMC Decision
Despite last week’s FOMC decision and predictions, stock traders have remained unruffled, with equities maintaining their upward trajectory since the meeting. This trend supplements the 2023 market rally as major risks, such as extensive banking contagion, have been mitigated, and the debt ceiling issue has been deferred until after the upcoming election cycle. Other economic indicators, such as an unexpected surge in the monthly construction of new homes, have exceeded expectations.
Unpacking the Yield Curve and Market Predictions
On a different note, the keenly monitored yield curve inversion reached a forty-year high on Tuesday, hitting 97 basis points for the 2Y10Y. While this might seem like an alarming headline, SA premium user mmt59 downplayed it as “not much more.” He characterized it as “another prediction of a future recession that will likely be much softer and shorter than anticipated.” He expressed more interest in the earnings of his portfolio’s companies, which have outperformed expectations so far this year.