If you think the Fed is a contrarian indicator, your hair may be standing straight up after you read this: James Bullard a voting member of the Fed says US deflation no longer seen as a risk.
The US has escaped the danger of a Japanese-style deflationary trap, according to James Bullard, a voting member of the Federal Reserve’s key policy-setting committee. Mr Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, told the Financial Times in an interview that his preoccupation throughout 2009 had been deflation, but the risk had “passed”.
Last week’s Fed meeting produced a dissenting vote for the first time in a year when Thomas Hoenig, president of the Kansas City Fed and a rate hawk, argued that financial conditions no longer warranted a policy of holding rates at “exceptionally low levels . . . for an extended period”.
Mr Bullard, who is considered a centrist member of the FOMC, said he was happy to continue with the current guidance, but he did have some sympathy for Mr Hoenig’s argument that “if you come off zero and you move up a little bit, it’s still a very easy policy. You’ve still got a very large balance sheet and you’re still at very low interest rates.”
The broader post-crisis economy was “on track” with its recovery, he said. “It’s not a real strong recovery but that’s what we had predicted anyway. But it will be above-average growth for the first half of 2010 and we’ll probably see some positive jobs growth in the first part of 2010 here.”
When the Fed does come to raise rates it may have to switch from its traditional benchmark of targeting the federal funds rate to targeting a repurchase rate because of the upheaval in the two markets over the last two years.
Be prepared for a massive slide and a resumed deflationary credit crunch. If you need a reason, look no further than Massive Layoffs Coming in NYC, Nevada, California, Colorado, Arizona, Everywhere.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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