US: Fed Chair Press Conference

Thu Sep 17 13:30:00 CDT 2015

Janet Yellen is stressing patience, that the risks coming out of China are too great and pointed against a rate hike for the September FOMC. She stressed that inflation remains "quite low" and "way below target" in part due to weak foreign economies and the strength of the dollar which has been pulling import prices down. She noted that it will take "a bit more time" for transitory inflation effects, which also include low commodity prices, to dissipate. She also noted the downgrade in the FOMC statement of wage pressures which are now described as having "moved" lower.

But Yellen is upbeat on the economy, describing general conditions and also the labor market as solid, though she continues to note that readings on unemployment, which she described as very low, are likely missing those who are under employed and still can't find full-time work. She described housing as soft and downplayed its role in the economy, stressing the importance instead of consumer spending and also business investment.

She confirmed that October will be a "live" meeting and that if a rate hike is approved, the Fed will announce an unscheduled press conference. Otherwise, the last meeting this year is in December when a press conference is already set. When the Fed finally does announce liftoff, she repeated that the path of the rate increase will be gradual.

The Fed announced on March 24, 2011 that then Fed Chair Ben Bernanke would hold press briefings four times a year to explain the FOMC's latest quarterly economic projections. Additionally, the purpose of the briefings is to provide additional context for the FOMC's policy decisions and to allow for Q&A with the press. According to the Fed, the "introduction of regular press briefings is intended to further enhance the clarity and timeliness of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy communication." As of March 20, 2013, the press briefing is held at 2:30 p.m. ET on the days of FOMC statements in which quarterly projections are released. These FOMC statement dates are designated as the ones released in the final month of each quarterMarch, June, September, and December. The policy statement is released at 2:00 p.m. ET after the conclusion of every FOMC meeting regardless of whether there are forecasts or not. This schedule started March 20, 2013. Fed Chair Janet Yellen continues this practice of holding the quarterly chair press conference.

The Fed's meeting statement and economic projections can move financial markets. However, the Fed's meeting statementwhich indicates any changes in monetary policytypically is very concise and lacking in detail. However, the Fed now releases its economic forecasts four times a year. As of March 20, 2013, the forecasts are released at the same time as the FOMC statement during the months of March, June, September, and December. These are the months that the chair holds a press conference to explain the forecasts and other policy issues. The chair's press conference allows for the financial markets and public in general to learn more about why and how the monetary policy decision was made and to learn more about FOMC views on the direction of the economyincluding real growth, inflation, unemployment, expected timing of changes in the fed funds rate, and expected levels of the fed funds rate in the near term.