Given that President Joe Biden has decided that Jerome Powell is his choice for chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, I expect Mr Powell will garner a sufficient number of votes after today’s re-appointment hearing from Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans for approval for another four-year term. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, will likely again make her feelings clear about how dangerous she believes Mr Powell’s bank supervision policies are for the American public. The assertions will make for some C-SPAN TV time drama but that will be about it.
I expect, based in part on his prepared remarks, that Mr Powell will describe a growing economy that has managed to create a strong job market. He is prepared to address the consequences of that growth among which are, in his words, supply and demand imbalances and bottlenecks accompanied by elevated inflation.
Inflation, I suspect, will be today’s hot topic. One-third of the U.S. Senate and all members of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for re-election this November. They want to go home to constituents this campaign season with positive news on when inflation is expected to dissipate. Wage inflation may be noted by Mr Powell where the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its last jobs situation report that non-farm payroll hourly earnings are at $31.31, up $.19 from the November jobs report. With unemployment at 3.9% and the addition of 199,000 non-farm payroll jobs, there is an argument that can be made that the economy is facing a full-employment scenario, thus fueling the probability of increased wage inflation.
For the twelve months ending November 2021, the U.S. experienced 6.8% inflation in all goods and services. Mr Powell had the good political sense to dump the word “transitory” as Americans expect no relief on inflation over the next one to three years as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported yesterday.
I would advise retail foreign exchange traders to keep their ears open for hints further refining the timing of the beginning of rate hikes as well as firmer indication as to how many are to be expected. Democratic senators will try to score political brownie points by spinning a narrative about what they can do regarding inflation, including touting support for Mr Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill which, they will argue, expands American transportation and productive capacity, thus alleviating inflationary pressures. Expect Republicans to push back on the Democratic narrative, arguing that Fed tapering of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities should have started sooner and move at a faster pace.
In reality, the most that the Senate can do for inflation and indirectly to impact the US currency is to move quickly on Mr Powell’s re-appointment, a done deal in my book.
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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.