The Fed normalizes its monetary policy but is not optimistic

As expected, the Federal Reserve has decided to start the process of reducing the size of its balance sheet. It will start next month in October. Details of the operation were presented in June and are available on a post send earlier today.

During her press conference, Janet Yellen has clearly announced the hierarchy between the two instruments the Fed can use to manage its monetary policy. The main instrument remains the fed fund interest rate. In “normal” time, this is the instrument that must be used by the FOMC to manage its monetary policy. The purchases of assets could become again an instrument for the Fed if the situation is exceptional. The interest rate is the rule and the assets’ purchase is the exception. But it was a relevant question as the current level of the fed fund is too low to have a strong impact on the economic activity in the case of a negative shock. A quantitative adjustment could be necessary. Janet Yellen sees a kind of complementarity between the two and the two instruments must remain in the central banker toolbox.  Continue reading

The US Federal Reserve in unknown territory

Written with Aline Goupil-Raguénès

During today’s meeting, the probability is high that the Federal Reserve will decide to reduce the size of its balance sheet.
This latter started to increase at the end of 2008, first when the Fed was a provider of liquidity to the banking sector, and second when the US central bank started to purchase assets on a large scale. Few figures will give the scale of the transformation; in 2007 on average the size of the balance sheet was USD 830bn, it is now close to USD 4 500bn. As percentage of GDP the change is impressive from 5.7% on average in 2007 to 23% during the second quarter of this year.
Many questions are associated with this new step in the normalization of the US monetary policy. That’s the reason of this post and of the attached detailed document which is more technical but also more precise on the way it will work. Continue reading

Euro Area: +6.6 million jobs since 2013

During the first half of 2017, the employment level came back at its pre-crisis peak level. This was already the case for the first quarter but it has been confirmed for the three months to June.
This robust profile in employment reflects a catch up when growth is more robust and with less uncertainty. On the graph we see that the employment profile is smoother than the GDP profile and is clearly in a catch up period.
Since the beginning of the recovery at the beginning of 2013, the Euro Area has added 6.6 million jobs.  Continue reading

Are we still in the midst of a crisis?

The answer is yes…or at least that was the answer from Mario Draghi at the press conference after the September 7 monetary policy meeting, thereby indicating the importance of pursuing monetary accommodation in order to keep on supporting economic activity, despite the recent uptick in growth. However, the economy is failing to get back on the road to higher inflation and this means there is still an imbalance.

More broadly speaking, I think that the world economy is still in crisis, especially in the west, if we define a crisis as a transition period between two stable trends.
I don’t mean a financial crisis as triggered by excessive debt used to finance the acquisition of property: financial crises like the one in 2007/2008 are as old as time itself.
Beyond this financial aspect, we can identify two major sources of imbalance, which persist and keep the global economy stuck in a crisis. Continue reading