Still “Too Early”

After all the hemming and hawing by nearly every Fed governor, and despite the fact the Fed has to do something in just over two weeks, the Fed still does not know what to do.

Speaking in Jackson Hole Fed governor Stanley Fisher Keeps September Rate Hike Option on the Table.

With market turbulence casting a cloud over the outlook for US monetary policy, a senior Federal Reserve official strove on Friday to keep the option of an interest rate rise alive at September’s key meeting.

Stanley Fischer, the vice-chair of the Fed’s Board of Governors, said at talks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that it was too early to say how the recent market tumult had affected the argument for a move next month, and that no decision had yet been made.

“The change in the circumstances which began with the Chinese devaluation is relatively new and we’re still watching how it unfolds, so I wouldn’t want to go ahead and decide right now what the case is — more compelling, less compelling etc,” he told CNBC business news.

“We’ve got a little over two weeks before we make the decision,” he said. “And we’ve got time to wait and see the incoming data, and see what is going on now in the economy.”

Fisher Not Certain

Here’s the funniest line by Fisher in the interview: “The economy is returning to normal. We’re not certain we are there yet.”

I am certain the economy is nowhere near normal, and the Fed is the primary reason why.

My speech was all prepared for Jackson Hole, but somehow I was not on the invite list. It was a severe oversight by someone.

Where They Stand

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at where all the Fed governors stand.

MarketWatch details Where every Fed member stands on raising interest rates.

  • Chairwoman Janet Yellen: Not at Jackson Hole. Told Congress in July that a rate hike this year would likely be appropriate.
  • Vice Chair Stanley Fischer: In an interview Friday, he said it’s too early to tell if case for rate hike was more compelling or less compelling. Before China yuan move, Fischer said case for September hike was “pretty strong” but not conclusive. He says level of confidence “pretty high” inflation will return to 2% target. He delivers a formal speech at Jackson Hole on Saturday.
  • Gov. Lael Brainard: Said in June that the Fed should give the data time to show labor-market progress, inflation rising.
  • Gov. Jerome Powell: Said in early August that he’s not sure whether to support a September rate hike.
  • Gov. Daniel Tarullo: Said in June that the U.S. economy has lost momentum.
  • New York Fed President William Dudley: Said on Wednesday that a rate hike is “less compelling” than a few weeks ago.
  • Chicago Fed President Charles Evans: Didn’t want rate hikes until middle of next year, as of July.
  • Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker: Due to give a speech next month titled “The Case Against Further Delay.”
  • Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart: Sees even odds of a September rate increase.
  • San Francisco Fed President John Williams: Said in June he expected two rate hikes this year.

Those are the voting members. It’s difficult to say how recent moves have changed the opinions of those last offering a view months ago.

None of this matters of course. Such discussions are for entertainment purposes only.

Despite the fact the Fed is clueless about whether or not the economy is “normal”, they will line up like ducks if Yellen decides to hike.

Let the market be your guide. It’s still “too early” to know what the market view will be two  weeks from now.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock