Tags: Plosser | Fed | struggle | statement

Plosser: Fed 'Will Struggle' With Its March Policy Statement

By    |   Saturday, 07 February 2015 04:22 PM

Charles Plosser, the hawkish president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, is going out with a bang before he retires March 1.

He dissented from some of the Fed's policy statements last year, preferring a tighter stance.

He was none too enamored with the central bank's decision to describe its stance on raising interest rates as "patient."

"It could mean different things to different people," he told The Wall Street Journal.

"What that means will depend on economic conditions. We would save ourselves a lot of headaches if we didn’t use [words like 'patient']. I’ve been only marginally successful in reducing our efforts to do that."

So how does the Fed get rid of the word?

"I don’t think we have an answer to that yet. The [Fed's policymaking] committee will struggle with what it wants to convey in March," Plosser said.

The central bank has kept its federal funds rate target at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008. Economists' consensus forecast is that the Fed will begin to lift rates around mid-year.

But Byron Wien, senior adviser to Blackstone, thinks it will move earlier, probably in the first quarter.

"Many believe this is unlikely because Europe is near or in a recession and Japan is suffering as well," he writes in Barron's.

"They reason that increased rates will only make the dollar stronger and hurt our trading partners." They also point to sluggish wage growth — 1.7 percent in 2014.

"My view is that the Fed is most responsive to domestic data: the U.S. economy has been growing at 5 percent real during the last two quarters, unemployment has dropped below 6 percent, and wages are starting to increase."

Wien wrote his column before last week's news that GDP expanded 2.6 percent.

"Inflation is not currently a problem, [so] the increase in rates is likely to be small and more an indication of a change in policy focus than a vigorous attempt to slow down an overheating economy," he said.

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Charles Plosser, the hawkish president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, is going out with a bang before he retires March 1.
Plosser, Fed, struggle, statement
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2015-22-07
Saturday, 07 February 2015 04:22 PM
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