The appointment of Jerome Powell as the new chair of the Federal Reserve must be interpreted by the markets as a sign of continuity. He is not the hawk that many market participants feared and neither holds a dovish and dangerous stance.
Yellen’s mandate has been widely criticized by many investors and economists. She inherited an economy where unemployment was at the Fed’s target levels, inflation was picking up and growth was strengthening, and yet she unnecessarily delayed raising rates and reducing the balance sheet for too long. The president’s confidence, despite nice words, was broken for months. The Trump team criticized the Federal Reserve for delaying the announced rate hikes ahead of the elections, but criticism intensified when Yellen raised cautionary messages about the economy after the nomination. Considered an ‘acknowledged dove’, she was criticized for delaying much-needed rate hikes, despite markets at all-time highs, yields at multi-decade lows, inflation rising and unemployment at 5%, and some hinted this was an ‘order’ from the Obama administration. Now that we see that the latest figures show a growth of 3% of the US economy, the critical voices have increased, accusing the now ex-president of the Federal Reserve of being unnecessarily dovish, ignoring the mounting risks in financial markets and not getting the diagnosis right.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Nov 3, 2017.