Sep 4, 2019

Fed discord over cutting rates could mean future headaches for Powell

Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The fight over the future of monetary policy at the Fed sharpened publicly ahead of the upcoming meeting in September.

What's new: Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren made the case against another cut to U.S. interest rates while St. Louis Fed president James Bullard said he would be in favor of a 50 basis point cut.

  • Rosengren and Bullard, both voters on the Fed's rate-setting committee this year, have been vocal about holding opposite positions on the rate-cut debate since July.
  • But Tuesday's comments showed the two are moving further apart on their respective stances rather than coming together.

Why it matters: The Fed delivered the first non-unanimous rate decision of Chairman Jerome Powell's tenure in June, and in July it saw 2 dissenting votes.

  • The increasing polarity of opinions on the Fed does not bode well for a central bank facing an unprecedented era in monetary policy and worsening U.S. and global economic data.

The intrigue: Bank of America Merrill Lynch research analysts said in June they were anticipating as many as 3 dissenting votes at that month's meeting. There was only 1, but more could very well be coming.

  • With unemployment and retail sales data holding strong, but manufacturing and business sentiment data weakening, Powell could face increasing scrutiny from members of the Fed no matter which direction he looks to take with policy.

Go deeper: Federal Reserve may not have tools to counter trade war effects

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There's nothing new about Fed disagreement

Reproduced from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Dissent has been growing at the Fed this year and has only increased since Chairman Jerome Powell decided to cut U.S. overnight interest rates in July.

Why it matters: While there are signs the Fed's rate setting committee is a very divided body, the 6 dissenting votes against official FOMC decisions this year are hardly out of the ordinary.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

The divided Fed is losing investors' faith

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Fed is doing its best to prop up the U.S. economy in the face of possible economic turbulence, but it's beginning to look like a rudderless ship and it's fast losing the confidence of investors.

Driving the news: The Fed's rate-setting committee cut U.S. interest rates 25 basis points as expected on Wednesday, but did so with 3 dissenting votes for the first time since 2016.

Go deeperArrowSep 19, 2019

Federal Reserve announces 2nd consecutive rate cut

Fed chairman Jerome Powell. Photo: Mark Wilson via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday, bringing the target range for the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 1.75%–2%.

Why it matters: The Fed's 2nd consecutive rate cut reflects worries about the U.S. economy. The trade war and slowing growth around the world have made corporate executives more worried than they've been in years.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019