Washington: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to hint at prospects for an eventual reduction of monetary stimulus when he gives a long-awaited speech on Friday for the Jackson Hole symposium.
The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual event, being held virtually, is an opportunity for the US central bank chief to shed light on officials’ intentions after minutes of the July 27-28 meeting showed most of them judged it appropriate to start slowing asset purchases this year.
The Fed is currently buying about $120 billion of assets per month - $80 billion of Treasury securities and $40 billion of mortgage-backed debt - and has pledged to keep up that pace until “substantial further progress” has been made toward its goals of maximum employment and 2 per cent inflation.
Wait for clarity
“Powell could fill in some of the blanks,” said Thomas Costerg, senior US economist at Pictet Wealth Management. “The recent minutes were pretty vague and there is a lot of room to give more specifics on taper timing and practicalities. It would be good to see where Powell and the rest of the board stand.”
The Jackson Hole event is traditionally scrutinized for hints on upcoming changes in stance. Some Fed leaders have used it as a platform to explain new initiatives, as Powell did last year in unveiling a new monetary policy framework.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will guide market participants down the QE taper path again in the coming week, continuing a lengthy process aimed at eliminating communication-related missteps
The symposium will take place from Thursday to Saturday. The Kansas City Fed had intended to hold the event in person at its usual location in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, but announced on Friday that it would shift to a virtual format due to an uptick in local COVID-19 cases.
While this year’s topic has been revealed as “Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy,” the exact lineup of speakers other than Powell hasn’t been disclosed.
US investors will also await a slew of economic data including reports on manufacturing, home sales, durable goods and personal income and spending. The figures will provide more signals on the strength of the recovery and any impact to it from rising COVID-19 cases and continued bottlenecks in supply chains.
Elsewhere, the European Central Bank will release minutes of its last decision in July and Brazil publishes inflation data, while Israel, Iceland, Hungary and South Korea all have interest-rate decisions.