Six things we learned from Powell and the FOMC
What are the key messages:
QE pace solidified at a high level
In terms of action, this was the lone move and it was a dovish one. The Fed has tapered Treasury buying from $300B/day to $4B/day since March. There was no sign the taper would be stopping but the Fed revealed that "over coming months" it will buy at the current pace, which is $120B/month of Treasuries and MBS combined. Compared that to $40B/month in QE3 and you get the picture.
Forcefully. aggressively and proactively
"We will continue to use our powers forcefully. aggressively and proactively," he said. That was one of the stronger statements and it highlights the broader stance.
Rates low forever
The dot plot goes out to the end of 2022 and all but two of the dots are still on the floor at the end. Powell put that into plain english when he said,
"We're not thinking about raising rates, we're not even thinking about thinking about raising rates."
That's quite likely the most-dovish phrase ever uttered by a Fed leader.
He also added that they would be prepared to tolerate "or I should say to welcome" very low readings on unemployment without worrying about inflation.
Yield curve control
Powell said that yield curve control 'remains an open question'. The message was that the Fed is still thinking about it and not sure it's effective. The market didn't like that and the dollar rebounded and stocks fell on that comment. I think that's the wrong take because Powell will do it if he thinks it works. But it's also a sign of how high the market's demands are.
Popping asset bubble would hurt job seekers
This comment was in the response to the final question so it probably won't get enough attention but it's critical for the Fed's thinking going forward. They don't care if they goose the stock market so long as they believe their actions are going to lead to progress on full employment and 2% inflation.
We would be prepared to tolerate or I should say to welcome very low readings on unemployment without worrying about inflation
Negative on economy but in a dovish way
The difficulty for Powell was that if he sounded too upbeat on the economy, it would sound dovish. So he stayed relatively negative but the overall tone was uncertainty, which is
"The evidence of one jobs report is that we might have bottomed in May but we'll see, we're not going to overreact to a single data point."