US: Fed Chair Press Conference

Wed Sep 20 13:30:00 CDT 2017

Janet Yellen is repeating that this year's downdraft in inflation is likely temporary, the result of one-time factors though she nevertheless concedes the dip is a bit of a "mystery" that the FOMC doesn't fully understand. She expects inflation to move higher and stabilize around the FOMC's 2 percent goal though she conceded here too that there are risks that inflation may continue to run below 2 percent. Yet, citing history, she said tightness in the labor market tends to push up wages over time and with that price inflation along with it.

On balance-sheet unwinding which is set to begin next month, the chair does not see any adjustments outside of the scheduled path. Yet should the economy significantly deteriorate, she said the FOMC could change reinvestment caps, stop rolloffs or resume reinvestment. Barring significant change, however, she prefers to use the federal funds rate as the primary tool to recalibrate policy.

On employment, she is pleased with progress and describes the 4.4 percent level as "quite low" and notes special progress among minorities who were hit hardest after the financial crisis. On her own future, Yellen said the intends to serve out her term as chair which ends January 31 next year. Even if she is not renominated, she could still stay on as a governor until her 14-year term expires in 2024.

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 questions-and-answers 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." 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 quarter -- March, 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. 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.