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St. Louis Fed president Jim Bullard. Photo: Luke MacGregor/Getty Images

Federal Reserve officials are taking the stage this week, following news the Fed is thawing to the idea of reducing its emergency market support.

Between the lines: Examined together, comments in the WSJ Monday from three Fed officials, plus Fed chair Jerome Powell, provide reassurance to markets that on the one hand, the economic recovery is strong — and on the other, the Fed will continue its support for the time being.

Why it matters: We heard from Powell at last week's press conference following the Federal Open Market Committee meeting — and now we’re hearing directly from other officials who will be involved in planning the Fed’s eventual retreat.

What they’re saying:

  • New York Fed president John Williams said that even though the economy is improving rapidly, he isn’t ready for the Fed to ease up on support.
  • Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan said he thinks the central bank should take its foot off the accelerator sooner rather than later in a bid to "avoid having to press the brakes down the road" with a more abrupt shift in monetary policy.
  • St. Louis Fed president Jim Bullard was somewhat aligned with Kaplan, saying it’s appropriate that the Fed has begun talking about tapering, but added that it will take some time before any plans are actually made.

Of note: Williams is a voting member of the FOMC, but Kaplan and Bullard are not — yet. Bullard will get a vote next year, and Kaplan can vote in 2023, based on the scheduled rotation.

Powell on Monday afternoon also released prepared testimony for today's Congressional hearing on the Fed's response to the pandemic. It largely echoed his prior comments, anticipating strength in jobs and acknowledging higher-than-expected inflation.

The bottom line: The talking about tapering has begun. Watch for more appearances by Fed officials in the coming weeks as the discussion continues.

Go deeper

Kate Marino, author of Markets
Sep 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

The bond market is warped

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visua

Conventional wisdom sends "smart money" looking to the bond market to interpret investor expectations on things like economic growth or inflation. Sometimes those cues are loud and clear — but for the better part of this year, the signals sent by Treasury yields seem broken.

Why it matters: The market still has things to tell us. But it's gotten harder to decode those messages amid all the noise and the complexities of the pandemic economy, says Drew Matus, chief market strategist at MetLife Investment Management.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."