Michael Held Resigns from the New York Fed

Central Bank News

April 07, 2022

NEW YORK—The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today announced that Michael Held has decided to step down from his role as General Counsel and Head of the Legal Group. He will be leaving the Bank in June 2022 and in the interim will move to an advisor role to help facilitate a smooth transition. YoonHi Greene and James Bergin, both Deputy General Counsel, will co-lead the group until a successor is named.

“For two and a half decades, Mike has been a dedicated public servant whose efforts have had a meaningful impact supporting the New York Fed’s mission,” said John C. Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Fed. “With sound judgment and deep expertise, Mike has leveraged his leadership skills to better the work that we do and how we do it. I want to thank him for his impressive career and the legacy that he leaves behind.”

As General Counsel, Mr. Held has been a member of the Bank’s Executive Committee and has served as Deputy General Counsel of the Federal Open Market Committee.

“It has been an honor to work with such a talented and committed group of central bankers,” said Mr. Held. “I count myself lucky to have had the privilege to be part of this incredible team for as long as I have.”

During his tenure, Mr. Held advised the Bank’s senior leaders on a wide range of matters, including regulation and supervision of financial institutions, anti-money laundering and OFAC, corporate investigations, corporate governance and ethics, director responsibilities, and litigation. In addition, he developed the New York Fed’s first pro bono program and was an executive sponsor of the Financial Institutions Culture & Conduct initiative. He previously served as the Bank’s Corporate Secretary and has been a Deputy General Counsel in the Legal Group. Mr. Held joined the New York Fed in 1998 as a staff attorney.

The New York Fed will soon launch a search for Mr. Held’s successor.

Contact
Suzanne Elio
(212) 720-6449
suzanne.elio@ny.frb.org

Betsy Bourassa
(212) 720-6885
betsy.bourassa@ny.frb.org

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Federal Open Market Committee News Scan …

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Jerome Powell. Recently, Fed Board chair Jerome Powell addressed price stability and the monetary policy rate response to it. “The latest FOMC statement also indicates that the Committee expects to begin reducing the size of our balance sheet at a coming meeting. I believe that these policy actions and those to come will help bring inflation down near 2 percent over the next 3 years.” See speech here.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Christopher J Waller. Recently, Governor Christopher J. Waller gave a speech discussing the role of monetary policy in combating rising rent costs and house prices.  “Based on various measures of asking rents, some recent research suggests that the rate of rent inflation in the CPI will double in 2022.3 If so, rent as a component of inflation will accelerate, which has implications for monetary policy.” See speech here.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Jim Bullard. “St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard discussed the upside surprise on inflation in recent months and the Fed’s response. He spoke at the Asian Investment Conference in an interview that was recorded March 22.” See video and article here.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is responsible for open market operations, one of the three primary monetary policy tools that are used to influence the federal funds rate. Open market operations involve the sale and purchase of securities by a central bank in the open market. The federal funds rate is the overnight rate that a member bank charges to another member bank when lending excess reserves.

While Powell’s hawkishness is the move in the right direction, it doesn’t negate the need to get rid of the Federal Reserve

On 21 March 2022, Jerome Powell, chairman pro tempore of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, made comments about labor markets, inflation, and reduction in the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve System. Mr Powell acknowledged that the labor market is tight and that nominal wages are rising, particularly at the lower end of the wage distribution.  Given what he noted as the severe imbalance of supply and demand in the labor market, Mr Powell wants to use the Federal Reserve System’s monetary policy tools to moderate the growth in demand for labor.

Analysts and investors have been raising concerns about the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet.  Mr Powell noted in his comments that reducing the Federal Reserve System’s balance sheet could bring inflation to near two percent over the next three years.

The economy, according to Mr Powell, is in a position to handle tighter monetary policy and he stated his willingness to see the interbank overnight (fed funds) rate increase by more than 25 basis points at the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

I appreciate the hawkishness for one reason.  It pushes back on the desire by political factions to weaponize the fed funds rate.  The effective fed funds rate, a volume-weighted median of transactions level data collected from banks, has increased over four times from its long-term rate of .08% to a current 0.33%.  The fed funds rate is the overnight rate that banks charge each other for lending and borrowing excess reserves.  The rate sits near the middle of the .25% to .50% range recommended by the FOMC.

On its face, the recent effective funds rate may incentivize banks to seek returns from the interbank market versus purchasing Treasurys.  For example, the yield per day on a one-year Treasury bill is .00442% versus an overnight fed funds rate of 0.33%.  Putting those excess reserves into the bond market would call for much higher yields which in turn would call for a fall in asset prices and clamping down on the rise in prices.

The Federal Reserve System has at its disposal a number of monetary policy tools to nudge banks to the overnight trading range including open market operations; the discount window and discount rate; reserve requirements; interest on reserves; reverse repurchase agreements; and liquidity swaps, to name a few.

Even with its tools and noble statutory mandate of pursuing stable prices and full employment, the Federal Reserve System still represents Congress’ abdication of its responsibility for coining money and regulating its value. Yes, Congress can authorize the mechanisms it deems necessary for meeting this statutory duty, but where the taxpayer/consumer/electorate is seeing an erosion of her spending and saving power, might it be time for Congress to reassert its statutory duty versus allowing the Federal Reserve System to act as a coordinator of bank cartel activity?

Alton Drew

23.03.2022

 For consultation on how this political or legal event impacts your foreign exchange trade, request an appointment at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

The Federal Reserve System’s message to American society: Start investing in more productive economic activity

The implicit agreement between the United States government and American society is that the United States government will maintain a financial and resource management infrastructure that facilitates a taxpayer’s ability to find opportunities to create income.  As the underwriter for the United States government, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has a mandate to pursue stable prices for goods, services, and assets and full employment of labor.  The Board of Governors via its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) employs a number of monetary policy tools to achieve this mandate with a federal funds target rate serving as indicia for how well its tools are working.

Yesterday, the Board of Governors raised this target rate to a range of .25% to .50%; in other words, an overnight rate that the Board of Governors would like to see its member commercial depository institutions lend to reach other the excess reserves they hold at their district federal reserve banks. The problem here is that at this printing, the Board of Governors has reduced to zero the amount of reserves a depository institution is required to keep at its respective federal reserve district bank.  Traders would have to look at other indicia to determine how well Board of Governors policy is doing in pursuing the federal funds target rate.

For example, traders should be looking at changes in the discount window rates that the federal reserve district banks are charging to lend money to their commercial member banks.  Traders should also look at changes in central bank liquidity swaps or changes in rates for federal reserve district bank lending facilities such as the term deposit facility or overnight reverse repurchase agreement facilities.  These are some of the monetary policy tools that the Board of Governors and its 12 federal reserve banks use to move rates toward their federal funds target and thus control the money supply.

As rates increase, American society will be put on notice.  I expect an increase in market discipline as banks and other investors seek out opportunities to increase returns on capital.  Lots of capital has gone into non-productive endeavors such as the tools and platforms riding the internet.  Amazon may have made purchasing goods and services more efficient, but can we say that Twitter and Instagram have raised American productivity and provided any societal solutions that lead to greater employment?  As the Board of Governors tackles inflation with its monetary tools, interest rates will start ticking up and entrepreneurial gimmicks that provide nothing in terms of increased yield, employment, or solutions will be and should be shunned or abandoned. 

Alton Drew

17.03.2022  

For consultation on how this political or legal event impacts your foreign exchange trade, request an appointment at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

Federal Reserve News Scan: Federal Reserve today releases data on commercial paper, foreign exchange, and interest rates

Board of Governors

At 1:00pm today, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (the Board) releases data on commercial paper.  At 4:15pm, the Board releases data on foreign exchange rates and interest rates.

Commercial paper refers to short term, unsecured debt typically maturing between one days to 90 days.  It is often issued at a discount, without paying coupons, and matures at face value. See current rates on commercial paper here.

Selected interest rate data includes data on the effective federal funds rate, commercial paper, bank prime loan, discount window primary credit, and U.S. government securities.  See current rates here.

The currency is political …

Last week Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, made three recommendations designed to reduce the politicization of the Federal Reserve System.  First, Senator Toomey recommends that the twelve Federal Reserve banks that are overseen by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.  FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552, requires the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by a U.S. government agency upon request.

The problem here is that FOIA is applicable to the United States government.  While the Board of Governors is an independent government agency, the twelve reserve banks are not.  The twelve reserve banks are individually incorporated and their stock is owned by commercial member banks that are in one of the twelve federal reserve districts.  Subjecting the twelve banks to FOIA given the current structure of the Federal Reserve System would be difficult and likely create a constitutional slippery slope for other private organizations.

Mr Toomey wants to further challenge the independence of the twelve federal reserve banks by requiring that their bank presidents be nominated by the U.S. president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  If Mr Toomey wants to maintain the Federal Reserve as a non-politicized entity, subjecting federal reserve bank presidents that head private organizations to a political appointment and selection process does not appear in line with keeping the Federal Reserve System non-political.  Whether subtle or blatant, a federal reserve bank president will give political actors a little more listening time than they would to other citizens.

The third recommendation appears to be the most extreme.  Mr Toomey recommends either shrinking the number of banks down from the current twelve to five with the remaining five bank presidents becoming permanent voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee, or eliminating the twelve federal reserve banks altogether.

The FOMC’s primary responsibility is the development of U.S. monetary policy, including setting the federal funds rate, the interbank overnight rate at which commercial member banks exchange with each other their reserves on deposit with the Federal Reserve.  The FOMC is made up of the seven Federal Reserve governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and four other federal reserve bank presidents serving a one-year term on a rotating basis.

The twelve federal reserve banks serve as an informational conduit from their respective districts to the Board of Governors. Would Mr Toomey’s recommendation not serve to eliminate an information channel from local communities to the FOMC while further centralizing and immersing the Federal Reserve into national political influence?

So far, I see no legislative threats on the horizon to the current Federal Reserve System structure.  Mr Toomey’s recommendation, however, is another example that currency is political.

Alton Drew 08.03.2022

For consultation on how this political or legal event impacts your foreign exchange trade, request an appointment at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

While awaiting Jerome Powell’s appearance before the Senate, some thoughts on partisanship and policy rates…

The only interest that the Republican and Democratic parties have in monetary policy are how best to weaponize interest rates to justify reckless spending and oppressive taxes. Low interest rates allow the U.S. Treasury to issue bonds in return for cash that is less expensive to service. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York places these IOUs into the market where commercial banks and other accredited market participants buy these IOUs and hold them in their portfolios as collateral in order to support their own future borrowing needs.

Democrats would like to see the interbank, overnight lending rate stay low. A low overnight rate incentivizes banks to lend money in the credit markets, theoretically putting credit and capital into the hands of end users who can deploy that money into productive and non-productive use. Of course, not all this cheap money goes into the hands of entrepreneurs but also into the hands of end-use consumers that want to leverage a trip to The Bahamas now and pay for it later out of their future income. In addition, Democrats can create and subsidize programs aimed at meeting short term electorate needs i.e. stimulus, or subsidize larger projects like renewable energy, which may assist some consumers but is really aimed at Democratic donors in the energy industry that may need R&D and other funding to aid their industry’s development.

Republicans, for all their smaller government rhetoric, don’t get off the hook. Although increased rates could help their banking industry constituents increase their income, low interest rates means corporations can get the cheap financing that enables business expansion.

The battle between Democrats and Republicans boils down to which constituency benefits the most from government’s overall need to expand.

During today’s Senate hearing where Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell presents the Fed’s semi-annual monetary policy report, you will notice that none of the banking committee members will call for an abolishment of the central bank. As much as elected and central bank officials reiterate the Federal Reserve’s political independence, the reality is that the Federal Reserve operates in a political environment, navigating that channel between both sides of the political spectrum. All one has to do is look at its increasing foray into social issues including climate change and racial equality in credit access to see that the Federal Reserve is influenced by the political climate.

Both sides of the aisle during today’s hearing will wail on about the obvious elephant in the room: inflation. If the Democratically-controlled Senate and House are so concerned about inflation, then they should not oppose a decline in the demand of the M2 money supply caused by an increase in the use of alternative currencies that transfer economic energy between autonomous individuals. The increase in money supply is the result, in part, of politicized demand which encourages low cost money which in turn moves toward low return, unproductive activity. Just go on the internet and you see plenty of examples.

The best inflation fighter in the short term is the use of alternative currencies for payments. Increasing the supply and use of alternatives decreases demand for a central bank’s credit-fiat currency.

Alton Drew

03.03.2022

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Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as financial or legal advice or as creating an agreement to provide financial or legal advice.

Interbank Market News Scan: Fed chairman Jerome Powell to confirm interest rate lift-off this month.

Interbank, Federal Reserve, House Financial Services, Jerome Powell. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sees strong labor demand but subdued labor supply. Inflation running above the Fed’s two percent target and continuing supply bottlenecks has set the table for the Fed’s policy rate decision later this month. See testimony here. Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

Interbank, SWIFT, CIPS, China, yuan. “Local firms are now talking about how to improve and develop CIPS payment services, which will boost the internationalization of the Chinese yuan and help companies do business overseas. But the SWIFT ban on Russia may boost the development of non-US dollar and non-SWIFT transactions, including CIPS. It may also stimulate e-yuan, China’s official digital currency.” See article here. Source: Shine.cn.

Interbank, Russia, foreign investors. “The Russian stock market has been shut for days and officials are barring any cash going to foreign investors. Funds from London to New York have suspended trading. As President Vladimir Putin steps up the attack on Ukrainian cities and tougher sanctions take effect, the country’s financial ties to the outside world are breaking down.” See article here. Source: Financial Post.

Interbank, Egypt, Ukraine, capital flight. “Egypt has seen hundreds of millions of dollars leave its treasury markets since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week as investors flee emerging markets for safer pastures, two bankers with knowledge of the matter said.” See article here. Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Foreign exchange rates of interest as of 11:00 am AST

EUR/USD=1.11658

GBP/USD=1.33797

USD/CAD=1.26912

USD/MXN=20.5265

USD/JPY=114.937

USD/CNY=6.31083

USD/INR=75.4949

USD/NGN=415.524

Source: OANDA

Dollar Index=97.70

Source: MarketWatch

Interbank Market News Scan: U.S. to release 30 million barrels of oil from its strategic petroleum reserves.

Interbank, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, credit. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released the second installment of The State of Low-Income America: Credit Access and Debt Payment. The report finds that payment rates and median credit scores rose for all income groups through September 30, 2021.” See press release and report here. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

International Energy Agency, European Commission, White House. President Joe Biden announces release of 30 million barrels of oil from the United States’ strategic petroleum reserves. See press release here, Source: Executive Office of the President.

Interbank, Treasury, South Korea. “The United States and Korea pledged to continue to work closely with the international community to respond to Russia’s aggressive actions that violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.” See press release here. Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Foreign exchange rates of interest at 3:15 pm AST

EUR/USD=1.11917

GBP/USD=1.33881

USD/CAD=1.27352

USD/MXN=20.5102

USD/JPY=115.336

USD/NGN=415.632

USD/INR=75.3584

USD/CNY=6.3095

Source: OANDA

Dollar Index=97.39

Source: MarketWatch

Interbank Market News Scan: Foreign exchange rates of interest to Atlanta’s immigrant community

EUR/USD=1.13212

GBP/USD=1.35297

USD/MXN=20.4726

USD/GTQ=7.53121

USD/NGN=415.91

USD/GHS=6.40152

USD/VND=22,724.6

USD/JPY=115.436

USD/KEW=1,196.68

USD/INR=75.4918

USD/BTC=0.00002

USD/ETH=00035

Source: OANDA

Dollar Index=96.01

Source: MarketWatch

Federal Reserve data

M2 money stock= $21,638.1 billion (December 2021)

M2 money stock change from December 2020 to December 2021: 13.1%

Effective federal funds rate: .08%

Bank prime loan rate: 3.25%

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System