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  • by Smriti Mathur
  • Feb 13, 2023
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Inflation Control a Lengthy Journey Ahead, Powell Alerts 

Hold on to your hats, folks - taming inflation is going to be a wild ride. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has just sounded the alarm, warning that it will take a "significant period of time" to bring inflation under control. Despite the recent surge in labor market data, Powell states that the disinflationary process is only in its early stages. This means that the inflationary pressures we've seen so far are just the tip of the iceberg. 

As the central bank continues to closely monitor the economy, Powell urges investors and households to brace themselves for a prolonged period of elevated inflation. The battle against inflation is far from over, and it's going to take sustained efforts from both monetary and fiscal authorities to come out on top.


Powell's Cautionary Remarks on Inflation Send Ripples Through the Market

The Federal Reserve Chair, Jay Powell, has just dropped a bombshell on the financial markets with his latest remarks on inflation. Despite the recent surge in job growth data and the robust performance of the economy, Powell has issued a warning that reducing inflation will take a "significant period of time." This statement has sent ripples through the market, as investors and households alike brace themselves for the journey ahead. 

The Fed has been on a mission to tame inflation since the end of the global financial crisis, and despite the progress made so far, Powell believes there is still a long way to go. He has indicated the need for further interest rate increases, which will undoubtedly put a damper on the current economic optimism. This is particularly surprising given that the Fed has already lifted its main interest rate from near-zero to a target range between 4.5 and 4.75 per cent in less than a year.


Last week, the central bank slowed the pace of its rate increases, leading some to believe that the most aggressive efforts to tame inflation were behind us. However, Powell says the "disinflationary process" still has a "long way to go" and is still in its early stages. In remarks at the Economic Club of Washington DC, he stated that the journey ahead would likely be "bumpy."

Powell's comments serve as a much-needed dose of caution in the face of rapidly improving labour market data. The Fed chair is reminding us that although the economy is on the upswing, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to control inflation. Inflation, if left unchecked, can lead to economic instability and negatively impact the purchasing power of households. The journey ahead may be long and bumpy, but with sustained efforts from both monetary and fiscal authorities, we can ensure a stable and prosperous future for all.


Investors and households alike are advised to brace themselves for a prolonged period of inflationary pressures, as the Fed continues to monitor and assess the evolving economic landscape. The road ahead may be rocky, but with caution and perseverance, we can emerge on the other side with a stable and thriving economy.

The Federal Reserve Chair, Jay Powell, has warned about inflation and its potential impact on the economy. The central bank has signaled that it may raise interest rates if incoming economic data continues to be stronger than expected. The strength of the labor market is cited as a reason for the Fed to keep tightening measures in place to control inflation and maintain economic stability. This approach is different from that of the Bank of Canada, whose governor, Tiff Macklem, has emphasized the need to pause rate hikes to allow monetary tightening to fully work through the economy and avoid slowing it too much.

Powell's comments highlight the delicate balance that central banks must navigate between inflation and economic growth. Interest rate increases can help control inflation, but at the same time, they may slow down the economy. On the other hand, holding interest rates steady can support economic growth but may lead to higher inflation. The Federal Reserve and other central banks must carefully consider the incoming economic data and adjust their policies accordingly. 

In the short term, higher interest rates may increase the cost of borrowing for households and businesses, making it more difficult for them to access credit. This can lead to reduced consumer and business spending, slowing down the economy. In the long term, however, higher interest rates can help keep inflation in check and support a stable economy.

Investors and households alike should stay vigilant as the central banks continue to monitor the economy and adjust their policies. As the journey ahead may be bumpy, it's essential to stay informed about the central bank's actions and their potential impact on the economy.


Preserving Fed's Independence: Key to Effective Inflation Management & Avoiding Social Policy Pitfalls 

The Federal Reserve, also known as the Fed, is a crucial player in the economy, with a specific role in controlling inflation and ensuring stability. However, to fulfill its mandate effectively, it must remain independent from political influence and resist the temptation to venture into issues beyond its purview.

Recently, Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke out about the importance of preserving the Fed's independence, and how it is vital in the fight against inflation. According to Powell, taking measures to combat inflation may not be popular in the short term, but the absence of direct political control over the Fed's decisions allows it to make necessary moves without being swayed by political considerations.

Powell also emphasized that the Fed should stay within its jurisdiction and not attempt to tackle social issues like climate change. While the Fed does have a narrow role in ensuring financial institutions manage climate risks, it is not, and will not become, a climate policymaker. Powell explained that without clear legislation from Congress, it would be inappropriate for the Fed to use its tools to promote environmental goals or other objectives outside of its core responsibilities.

These comments by Powell come at a crucial time, as the U.S. Republican Party has installed one of its members as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and is beginning to select new chairs for the committees overseeing federal operations, including the Fed. Despite criticism from some Republicans who believe the Fed is venturing into areas beyond its jurisdiction, Powell remains committed to building strong relationships with elected officials from both major U.S. political parties.

The independence of the Fed is vital to its ability to effectively control inflation and maintain stability in the economy. It must resist the temptation to venture into social issues beyond its purview and remain focused on its mandate as established by Congress.


The Tug-of-War between Stocks and Rates: How Powell's Firm Stance on Interest Rates Could Halt the U.S. Stock Rally

The stock market has had a strong start this year, but the future of this early year rally may be uncertain. This is because of a recent rise in the yields of US Treasury bonds. Yields are the interest rates paid on government bonds and when yields rise, bond prices fall. To understand this, think of yield and bond prices as opposite sides of a seesaw - when one goes up, the other goes down.


Recently, yields fell to start the year after hitting a 10-year high at the end of 2022, but now they are rising again following a strong US employment report. This report led investors to believe that the Federal Reserve will need to raise interest rates higher and keep them elevated for a longer period of time to keep inflation under control. The Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, confirmed these expectations when he said that interest rates may need to rise higher than previously expected if the economy becomes too strong.


Despite these rising yields, the stock market has not been affected yet. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 index rose 1.3% along with a 6 basis point rise in the 10-year US benchmark Treasury yield. However, some investors are worried that if yields continue to rise, it could negatively impact the stock market in the coming weeks. This is because when yields rise, it becomes less attractive to invest in stocks and the cost of borrowing for companies increases. Additionally, rising yields can also lower the value of stocks, particularly for tech and other companies that depend on future profits.


The current premium, which is the extra return investors expect to receive for holding stocks over risk-free government bonds, has become less favorable over the past week. This means that the extra return investors were previously receiving for holding stocks instead of bonds has decreased. 

Overall, the future of the early year rally in stocks is uncertain and may depend on whether the market can withstand the recent rise in Treasury yields.


Data Signifies All Of It!

Following the recent comments made by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, investors are now focusing on economic data to guide their investment decisions. Two consumer price index reports and another job report are expected to be released before the next Federal Reserve meeting, and investors are waiting for these reports to come in before making any further decisions. Yung-Yu Ma, the Chief Investment Strategist at BMO Wealth Management, says that the market is in a comfortable place to digest the gains that have already been seen this year and wait for more data to come in.

Some investors are not yet worried about the potential impact of rising yields on stocks. Brian Jacobsen, a Senior Investment Strategist at Allspring Global Investments, believes that yields will not hurt equity markets unless the 10-year yield rises back above 4%, which is a level it has not breached since November. He is bullish on growth stocks, which were impacted by rising yields last year, but have made a strong comeback in 2023. Jacobsen believes that the worst of the profit recession is behind us and investors can start positioning for a profit recovery.

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