Federal Open Market Committee Sept 2015: Report & Opinion

Due to the vast weakening of the domestic and global economic environment by the aftermath of the financial crisis, that lead to the great recession. The Fed kept interest rates at 0% for nearly a decade to cushion the hit, and increase liquidity, to ease credit markets (FRED, 2015). But low-interest rates for too long presented a dilemma for the Fed, it has not generated any upward pressure on inflation, and previous efforts from the QE bond buying program did not stimulate inflation (WSJ, 2015). The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on September 16 & 17 of 2015, and decided not to increase the interest rates, maintaining a [0,0.25] percent target range for the federal funds rate (FRB1, 2015). There are many interconnected factors that contributed to their decision. Among them was the current weakening of global demand, especially in China. The current and potential appreciation as a result of an interest rate hike would increase the demand for the US dollar, would negatively affect net exports even more and slow the growth of the economy. Another key factor is the low inflation rate, that has been below its 2% preferred measure for several years (The Economist, 2015). However, the committee claims that the recent drop in energy prices has put downward pressure on inflation, and are thus waiting for the prices to rise, and stabilize (FRB, 2015).  During the press conference held by Chairwoman Janet Yellen, the lag of the labor market’s adjustments relative to wage growth and actual unemployment rate was addressed and it was concluded that she would like see further improvements in the labor market that should generate some inflation, before raising interest rates (C-SPAN, 2015).  Since wage growth has been shy of expectations in comparison to previous post recovery periods (The Economist, 2015).  The current low rates have fueled auto sales and the commercial real estate while also contributing to the steady decline in the unemployment rate peaked 10% in 2009 to 5.1% in August 2015 (Hilsenrath, J, 2015). From a political stance, the U.S government depends on deficit spending, once interest rates increase, interest payments are going to be larger, and harder for the government to maintain a balanced budget. Hypothetically, as the presidential campaigns ends in 2016, a new president’s fulfillment of promises to their constituents to address the nation’s affairs could further increase the deficit. With higher interest rate the crowding effect from government spending will crowd out investments (Mankiw, 2012).

Prior to the FOMC, many economists and financial professionals have expressed their predictions and expectations towards the outcome of the Feds’ decision in major news sources. CNBC asserts that an interest rate increase will upset the bull market, bond yields will climb (Cox J., 2015), meaning that investors would consider investing in money market products which are more secure (Financial Times, 2015). The Economist claims that the faster the economy allows for higher rates, the better it is for the economy through the transition of the business cycle. Conversely, an increase now would pointlessly risk recovery, due to the 3.7% annualized pace in the second quarter of 2015 (The Economist, 2015). Moreover, according to Koch & MacDonald 2014, the banking industry would face interest rates risk, due to the change in net interest income. Furthermore, as bond yields rise, bond prices decline affecting holders of long-term debt securities, since bond prices and yields are negatively related (Croushore, D, 2014). Also increasing payments of free-floating instruments affected by a rate hike, subsequently resulting in major balance sheet changes. Taking the Mundell-Fleming Model into account, a monetary contraction either from the discount rate, the FOMC operations, or changing the reserve requirement would shift LM curve upwards increasing interest rates, thus leading to an increase in net capital inflow, which would lead to dollar appreciation, as a result negatively effecting net export and output, ceteris paribus (Mankiew, 2013).

The Fed is in a peculiar era of monetary theory failure (WSJ, 2015). It has not yet settled its tug-of-war between price stability (2% inflation) and full employment (FRED, 2015). According to the FRB 2015, forecasted projections induce that interest rates increases have a slight chance of occurring in 2015 and a significant chance in 2016 (FRB2, 2015). Whether or not the Fed reaches their target objectives is still in question. On the other hand, continuing with negligible interest rates will still hinder the effects of monetary policy, particularly under the likelihood of a recession.

References

When the Fed raises rates, here’s what happens. Retrieved 17 September 2015, from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/15/when-the-fed-raises-rates-heres-what-happens.html (Cox, J. 2015)

Money & Banking 3 + Coursemate Printed Access Card. United States: South-Western College Publishing.  (Croushore, D, 2014)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen held a news conference following the quarterly Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on current economic projections. Retrieved 20 September 2015, from  http://www.c-span.org/video/?328132-1/federal-reserve-chair-janet-yellen-news-conference (C-SPAN, 2015)

Economic projections of Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents Retrieved 18 September 2015 http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/files/fomcprojtabl20150917.pdf (FRB2, 2015)

Press Release–Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement–September 17, 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015, from http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/monetary/20150917a.htm (FRB1, 2015)

False start. Retrieved 18 September 2015, from http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21664137-fed-should-wait-until-inflation-closer-target-raising-rates-false-start (The Economist, 2015)

Fed Delays Interest-Rate Liftoff. Retrieved 18 September 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/fed-leaves-interest-rates-unchanged-1442512974 (Hilsenrath, J, 2015)

Bank Management. United States: Cengage Learning. (Macdonald, S., & Koch, T. W 2014).

Mankiw, G. N. Macroeconomics (8th ed.). United States: Worth Publishers Inc.,U.S. (Mankiw 2012)

Trapped by Zero. Retrieved 18 September 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/trapped-by-zero-1442358927?tesla=y  (WSJ 2015)

Why is the Fed considering raising interest rates now? Retrieved from http://ig.ft.com/sites/when-rates-rise/#what-is-happening. (Financial Times 2015).

Retrieved 18 September 2015,Acquired from FRED https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/  (FRED, 2015)

FRED

Short term effect on the average consumer as oil prices drop. (Theoretical approach)

Most economists agree that Oil is considered to be a normal good, by normal we mean that as your income goes up you would buy more of that good, that is a basic definition. As  oil prices fall you would expect that oil consumption would increase, however in the short-run that is not the case. Oil in fact is inelastic in the short run, inelastic means that its consumption is not sensitive to price. Companies still need to operate at the same rate to satisfy their operations and people still need to drive to get to work. It takes time for markets to adjust and people to change their way of living. The long run is a different topic by itself and is out of the scope of this post. You are not going to buy a 8 cylinder pick up after you hear oil fell this month are you?

We can then agree that oil consumption would not change in the short run. Now we can check the graph that I have made to illustrate a theoretical approach of what consumers are going through at this point of time.

Lets say that you pay $500 rent a month for 5 years. Suddenly rent became $300, means you have $200 more to spend on other things other than rent or you could decide to save it. So in simple terms lower oil prices has caused income to increase, which means people can consume or save more than they previously could.

Check below for technical details on how I reached this conclusion using Consumer behavior theory.

The graph you see is the consumer theory diagram.

First be noted of the following.
  • The Vertical Axis labeled “A.O.G”(All Other Goods)- In terms of Quantity. (The farther up means more)
  • The Horizontal Axis labeled “Oil”.- In terms of Quantity (Further right is more)
  • The red line depicts a budget. Where “I” is the starting point. The Horizontal intercept of the Budget at I & I*, to be known as (Income/Price of Oil). The Vertical Intercept is unchanged since their prices are presumed to be constant,Ceteris Paribus.
  • U-shaped curve depicts the indifference curve.
  • The green dotted line is Hicksion line, a line parallel to the new Budget line and tangent to the old Indifference curve.

A decrease  in the price of oil would shift the Horizontal-intercept on the Oil axis to the right, meaning that “Income has risen”, as indicated  I —> I*, where I*>I. Using the Hicksion method we find that initial change for the substitution effect, for as Income goes up we would have to consume more, for the normal good condition. Moving oil Consumption from X*—>X and shown on the original indifference curve Point (A) to point (C). Since we have established that oil is inelastic in the short run, so that would mean that consumption levels of Oil would go back to its initial starting level X* but on the new Indifference curve on the new budget line resulting in tangency of Point (B), which satisfies the inelastic condition, where consumption for oil does not change. However that results in A.O.G consumption  increase from Y —> Y1. Which satisfies that a drop in oil prices in the short run leads consumers to spend more on other goods, Ceteris Paribus.


In summary

A—->C = Substitution Effect

C—->B = Income Effect

A—->B= Total Effect