Interbank market news scan: Federal Reserve lists principles for reducing its balance sheet; foreign exchange rates of interest …

Interbank, Federal Reserve. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve reiterated that its primary policy tool for managing the money supply, maintaining stable prices, and pursuing maximum employment is the federal funds rate, the interbank, overnight rate banks apply when lending reserves to each other. The Board will reduce its balance sheet of assets after its initial raising of the federal funds rate which markets expect to occur in March 2022. Legal advisors should keep this in mind when reviewing or counseling clients on foreign exchange contracts. To see the Board’s release, follow this link.

Interbank, US Dollar. Analysts are expecting further slippage in the euro versus the dollar given the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve’s decision last Wednesday on interbank overnight lending rates (the federal funds rate). Analysts are seeing the EUR/USD falling to support levels as low as 1.10. Legal advisors should keep this in mind when advising clients on foreign exchange contracts. To see this article, follow this link.

Interbank, SONIA. As banks transition from LIBOR to alternative interest rate benchmarks, here is a discussion on implications from and an update on the status on making the change from LIBOR.

Interbank, European Central Bank. The ECB issues a statement on historically low number of counterfeit banknotes. Approximately 347,000 banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. To see this article, follow this link.

Foreign exchange rates of interest to Atlanta’s immigrant community

EUR/USD=1.1180

GBP/USD=1.3406

USD/MXN=20.7530

USD/GTQ=7.5208

USD/NGN=414.8790

USD/GHS=6.1895

USD/VND=22,633.9000

USD/JPY=115.0500

USD/INR=75.1226

USD/BTC=0.00003

USD/ETH=0.00041

Source: OANDA

Federal Reserve continues reduction of monthly asset purchases, maintains interbank rate at current level, and no clear indication of a March rate hike…

“Indicators of economic activity and employment have continued to strengthen. The sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic have improved in recent months but are being affected by the recent sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. Job gains have been solid in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined substantially. Supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic and the reopening of the economy have continued to contribute to elevated levels of inflation. Overall financial conditions remain accommodative, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses.

The path of the economy continues to depend on the course of the virus. Progress on vaccinations and an easing of supply constraints are expected to support continued gains in economic activity and employment as well as a reduction in inflation. Risks to the economic outlook remain, including from new variants of the virus.

The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. In support of these goals, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. With inflation well above 2 percent and a strong labor market, the Committee expects it will soon be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate. The Committee decided to continue to reduce the monthly pace of its net asset purchases, bringing them to an end in early March. Beginning in February, the Committee will increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $20 billion per month and of agency mortgage‑backed securities by at least $10 billion per month. The Federal Reserve’s ongoing purchases and holdings of securities will continue to foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses.

In assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, the Committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook. The Committee would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the Committee’s goals. The Committee’s assessments will take into account a wide range of information, including readings on public health, labor market conditions, inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and financial and international developments.

Voting for the monetary policy action were Jerome H. Powell, Chair; John C. Williams, Vice Chair; Michelle W. Bowman; Lael Brainard; James Bullard; Esther L. George; Patrick Harker; Loretta J. Mester; and Christopher J. Waller. Patrick Harker voted as an alternate member at this meeting.”

Implementation Note issued January 26, 2022Last Update: January 26, 2022

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Federal Reserve shares its position on central bank digital currencies …

The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday released a discussion paper that examines the pros and cons of a potential U.S. central bank digital currency, or CBDC. It invites comment from the public and is the first step in a discussion of whether and how a CBDC could improve the safe and effective domestic payments system. The paper does not favor any policy outcome.

“We look forward to engaging with the public, elected representatives, and a broad range of stakeholders as we examine the positives and negatives of a central bank digital currency in the United States,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said.

The paper summarizes the current state of the domestic payments system and discusses the different types of digital payment methods and assets that have emerged in recent years, including stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies. It concludes by examining the potential benefits and risks of a CBDC, and identifies specific policy considerations.

Consumers and businesses have long held and transferred money in digital forms, via bank accounts, online transactions, or payment apps. The forms of money used in those transactions are liabilities of private entities, such as commercial banks. Conversely, a CBDC would be a liability of a central bank, like the Federal Reserve.

While a CBDC could provide a safe, digital payment option for households and businesses as the payments system continues to evolve, and may result in faster payment options between countries, there may also be downsides. They include how to ensure a CBDC would preserve monetary and financial stability as well as complement existing means of payment. Other key policy considerations include how to preserve the privacy of citizens and maintain the ability to combat illicit finance. The paper discusses these and other factors in more detail.

To fully evaluate a potential CBDC, the Board’s paper asks for public comment on more than 20 questions. Comments will be accepted for 120 days and can be submitted here.

For media inquiries, please email media@frb.gov or call 202-452-2955.

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Biden announces three nominations to the Federal Reserve

Today, President Biden announced the nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to serve as Vice Chair for Supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the nomination of Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Our economy has made enormous progress over the past year, with 6.4 million jobs created and unemployment falling to 3.9% –– four years faster than projected. At the same time, our economy is facing the challenge of price increases that are squeezing families’ budgets.

The Federal Reserve plays a vital role in our economy. The President is confident that the Federal Reserve will act to achieve their dual goals of maximum sustainable employment and price stability and make sure that price increases do not become entrenched over a long term with the independence that they need.

Along with Jerome Powell – who the President has nominated for a second term as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System – and Dr. Lael Brainard – who was nominated to serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System – President Biden has now nominated a group of five people to serve on the Board of Governors who have the experience, judgment and talent necessary to lead the Federal Reserve at this important moment in our economic recovery.

The Senate has confirmed three of these nominees who have previously served on the Board of Governors – Powell, Brainard, and Raskin. Jefferson started his career as an economist for the Federal Reserve, and both he and Cook have consulted frequently with a number of Federal Reserve Regional Banks. They will bring long overdue diversity to the leadership of the Federal Reserve, including the first Black woman in history to serve on the Board and the fourth Black man to serve on the Board. If all five are confirmed, the Board will be majority women. When we have leaders in the Federal government that reflect the diversity of our country, it results in better outcomes for all Americans. That is especially true in our economy where too many groups historically have been left behind, or left out altogether.

Statement from President Biden

“We are at a moment of historic economic progress alongside unique economic challenges as we work to drive our recovery forward. This is a moment that calls for sound, independent leadership from the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve. That is why I am proud to nominate Sarah Bloom Raskin, Lisa Cook, and Philip Jefferson, who will bring a breadth of knowledge, experience and expertise to the Board of Governors. Raskin is among the most qualified nominees ever for the position of Vice Chair for Supervision, while Jefferson and Cook are talented economists with decades of experience working on a broad range of economic issues. Together with Chair Powell and Dr. Brainard, who I renominated last month, this group will bring much needed expertise, judgement and leadership to the Federal Reserve while at the same time bringing a diversity of thought and perspective never seen before on the Board of Governors. They will continue the important work of steering us on a path to a strong, sustainable recovery, while making sure that price increases do not become entrenched over the long term. I have full confidence in the strong leadership of this group of nominees, and that they have the experience, judgement, and integrity to lead the Federal Reserve and to help build our economy back better for working families.”

Sarah Bloom Raskin for Vice Chair for Supervision
Sarah Bloom Raskin has served both as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and as a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board. At Treasury, she oversaw the Treasury Department and its various agencies and departments, pursuing innovative solutions to enhance American’s shared prosperity, the resilience of our country’s critical financial infrastructure, particularly as it related to climate risk and cybersecurity, and the defense of consumer safeguards in the financial marketplace. As a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, she helped conduct the nation’s monetary policy and promote financial stability. She also served as the Commissioner of Financial Regulation for the State of Maryland, where she and her agency were responsible for regulating Maryland’s financial institutions, including all state-chartered depository institutions, banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, mortgage servicers, and trust companies, among others. She currently is the Colin W. Brown Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Law at the Duke University School of Law as well as the board of trustees of Amherst College. She received her B.A. in economics from Amherst College (Phi Beta Kappa; magna cum laude), and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Lisa Cook for Governor
Lisa D. Cook is a Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State University. She was the first Marshall Scholar from Spelman College and received a second B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley with fields in macroeconomics and international economics. She was an adjunct professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Deputy Director for Africa Research at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, and a National Fellow at Stanford University. Among her current research interests are economic growth and development, innovation, financial institutions and markets, and economic history. Dr. Cook is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and is the author of a number of published articles, book chapters, and working papers. She is also on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Economic Literature. She also served at the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama and also had visiting appointments at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the University of Michigan, and the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia. She serves on the Advisory Boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Academic Advisory Council).

Philip Jefferson for Governor
Philip N. Jefferson is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty and the Paul B. Freeland Professor of Economics at Davidson College. He serves on the Vassar College Board of Trustees, the Board of Advisors of the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and is a past president of the National Economic Association. He is a Faculty Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research has appeared in several journals and has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Jefferson previously served as chair of the Economics department at Swarthmore College, where he was the Centennial Professor of Economics. He was an economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He held visiting appointments at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He served as a director of the Eastern Economic Association and as a member of the governing council of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. Philip served on the Swarthmore Borough Council, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He holds a BA in economics from Vassar College and a PhD and a MA in economics from the University of Virginia.

Source: The White House

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Lael Brainard’s testimony before the U.S. Senate: Emphasis on inflation …

Chairman Brown, Ranking Member Toomey, and other members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to appear before you. I am greatly honored to be nominated by President Biden to serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. If confirmed to this position, I look forward to continuing to work with members of this Committee.

We are seeing the strongest rebound in growth and decline in unemployment of any recovery in the past five decades. Over the past year, unemployment has fallen by 2.8 percentage points, and growth is estimated to be around 5 1/2 percent, according to a variety of private forecasts.

But inflation is too high, and working people around the country are concerned about how far their paychecks will go. Our monetary policy is focused on getting inflation back down to 2 percent while sustaining a recovery that includes everyone. This is our most important task.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, I worked closely alongside Chair Powell and Secretary Mnuchin and many others, with the support of Congress, to calm financial market turmoil and save American jobs and businesses. When markets stabilized, I worked to responsibly wind down the emergency facilities we established. Today the economy is making welcome progress, but the pandemic continues to pose challenges. Our priority is to protect the gains we have made and support a full recovery.

Since 2014, as a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, I have supported monetary policy that is responsive to evolving economic conditions. Our approach helped sustain the longest recovery on record with low inflation and millions of jobs.

More broadly, I have worked to safeguard and grow our economy during the Administrations of five Presidents from both parties. I have worked on the U.S. policy response to every major financial crisis over three decades. I served at the Department of the Treasury as part of the team responsible for supporting America’s recovery from the Global Financial Crisis and responding to the euro-area financial crisis. I served at the White House as part of the team helping to safeguard the American economy from the Asian financial crisis as well as financial crises in Mexico, Brazil, and Russia. In some foreign countries, I saw up close how high inflation hurts workers and families, especially the most vulnerable.

I am committed to pursuing the Federal Reserve’s congressionally mandated goals of price stability and maximum employment and to maintaining the strength and resilience of our financial system. I am committed to the independent and nonpartisan status of the Federal Reserve.

If confirmed, I look forward to supporting Chair Powell in carrying out the responsibilities assigned to the Federal Reserve and in fostering transparent communication and accountability to you and the American people. I will bring a considered and independent voice to our deliberations, drawing on insights from working people, businesses, financial institutions, and communities—large and small—across the country. I will support policies that are in the interests of the American people and based on the law and careful analysis of the evidence.

Before closing, I want to thank my husband and daughters for their steadfast support of my work. And I would like to commend the outstanding efforts of the individuals across the Federal Reserve System who work so hard every day to serve the American public.

Senators, I thank you for this opportunity to appear before you and for considering my nomination. I would be pleased to respond to any questions.

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve

No surprises out of Powell’s nomination hearing …

The real economy isn’t supposed to support everyone. It is supposed to employ an optimal number of employees that produce the most income at the least cost for the individuals investing the capital. This is my response to the expected drivel coming out of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, during today’s hearing on the re-nomination of Jerome Powell as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Senator Brown in his opening statement expressed his concern that Wall Street banks were enjoying over a decade of high profits while individuals on Main Street were facing the threat of unemployment and rising inflation.

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s line of questioning followed a similar vein to Mr Brown, although the Massachusetts Democrat seemed to go all in on “corporations” versus her usual culprits, the banks. Mr Powell probably determined it was best not to interrupt Mrs Warren by pointing out that the Board of Governors has oversight of banks and not your run-of-the mill corporations. Silence is best. Let her ramble on. Besides, Mrs Warren was likely on a stage of satisfaction having her favorite Fed governor (Lael Brainard) as nominee for the Board’s vice-chair, thus having an embedded check on a “dangerous man” (Warren’s words) in the form of Mr Powell.

If any topic out of the Senate was going to peak trader interest, it would be the topic of inflation. Politically, about a third of the Senate would love to have the ability this election year to say that they did something about inflation, but the Senate along with the House of Representatives, punted away their constitutional power over coin and commerce over a century ago. Although Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, and Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, raised the issue of inflation and the Federal Reserve’s policy timing to address it, none of the senators offered policy recommendations or hinted at legislation designed to mandate requirements for addressing inflation. A number of senators acknowledged the Federal Reserve’s dual statutory mandate of bringing about price stability and generating full employment, but that was the extent of serious discussion on inflation.

In just under 14 hours from this writing, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue its year-over-year estimate on overall inflation. Consensus forecast is at seven percent, relatively in line with last month’s annualized rate of 6.8%. While I don’t do market analysis here, I expect that after the inflation print, the morning will be filled with banter on whether the Federal Reserve will have three rate increases or even four.

Otherwise, Mr Powell will be advanced from the Senate banking committee to the full floor of the Senate where he will likely see his nomination approved. He will likely look more hawkish. He may not have a choice if tomorrow’s number ends up being what we expect.

And as for the usual drivel on the economy and the working man, the inflation number will provide the usual fodder for campaign messaging.

Alton Drew

11.01.2022

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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.

At first blush, what I expect to hear from the Senate banking committee regarding re-appointment of Jerome Powell

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.

Alton Drew

11.1.2022

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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.

Part of reading the United States’ currency value is reading the underlying shift in its cultural values.

Commentary

The United States is at a crossroads in terms of its culture. A corporate democracy such as this one sees elected officials willing to deficit spend on programs designed to buy votes from an electorate increasingly under stress due to the uncertainty of an economy that may not be able to provide for their wants and needs. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), America’s fiscal year 2021 budget deficit is approximately $3.003 trillion. While estimated revenues totaled $3.842 trillion, FY2021 outlays were estimated at $6.845 trillion. Fiscal year 2020 saw estimated revenues at $3.420 trillion with outlays estimated at $6.552 trillion. The FY2020 deficit was higher than FY2021, coming in at $3.142 trillion.

I would expect the Administration to argue that the last two years saw the federal government increasing its outlays to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, but if we go back 40 years, we find not only expected increases in outlays and revenues, but increases in outlays far outstrip increases in revenues. For example, FY1982 outlays were $.746 trillion compared to FY2021 outlays of $6.845 trillion, amounting to a 818% increase over the 40 year period. The increase in revenues over the same period amounted to 522%, where FY1982 revenues totaled $.618 trillion and FY2021 revenues came in at $3.842 trillion.

In addition, mandatory spending, which is dictated by past law that sets out mandatory requirements for spending on items such as social security, Medicare, and income security programs, increased 1,211% between FY1982 and FY2021. Meanwhile, discretionary spending, where a program is approved during the congressional appropriations process, saw a 407% increase in outlays between FY1982 and FY2021. The programs funded during this process include national defense, transportation, education, and housing.

Democracy is expensive. As politicians carve out “alphabet fiefdoms” ie, BLM, LGBQT+, Latinx, DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion programs) etc., the promises made convert into programs that have to be paid for. Low interest rates over the last decade and a half have accompanied the expansion in spending. Cheap money leads to more spending. For example, according to data from the Federal Reserve, the current prime lending rate is approximately 3.25%. This represents a 70.4% decline in the prime rate since 8 August 1983.

In addition, the rates on Treasury debt issued to fund government programs have been falling steadily since January 2000. According to data from the US Treasury, interest rates reflecting long term composite debt in excess of ten years has fallen from 6.87% in January 2000 to 1.89% in December 2021.

Democracy is expensive, but the current low interest rate environment gives American politicians the impression that democracy is affordable. With every new demand from small but vocal factions along the political spectrum, the wider the interest-rate driven deficit.

I have started to liken a currency to a coupon you get from a fast food restaurant. No matter how deep the discount, the crappier the food, the less valuable the coupon. The US Treasury-Federal Reserve Fast Food Corporation is no different. The current rate of inflation (6.8%) that destroys its spending value compounds the damage from lower rates of return and from increased government spending designed to buy votes while providing little other value to the currency holder.

Alton Drew

9.01.2022

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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.

Will the Fed decrease the supply of currency for trade?

A review of the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting last month left me with the impression that the Federal Reserve will be ready to raise its overnight rate on interbank loans (the fed funds rate) in June of this year versus waiting until 2023. Board members and other FOMC participants see a strong economic outlook for the US along with higher inflation and tighter labor markets. While the “taper” word has for the most part gone the way of the other t-word, “transitory”, both concepts are still integral to Federal Reserve monetary policy over the next year.

By the middle of this month, the Federal Reserve is expected to purchase $40 billion of Treasury securities and $20 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities in part to maintain a smooth transition to a run-off of its balance sheet. The FOMC made clear in its minutes that the fed funds rate was still its primary monetary policy tool for achieving full employment and stable prices. The fed funds rate provides the Federal Reserve with more outcome certainty as opposed to additions to or subtraction from its balance sheet.

The FOMC also noted that during the period between its last two meetings, there were no attempts at intervening in the foreign currency markets as part of any dollar-support policy.

Touching on currency supply for a minute, the fourth quarter of 2021 saw the supply of US currency in circulation increase by 1.48% while the dollar index increased by 1.97%. I raise this merely as an interesting point given that an increase of currency in this instance may have been accompanied by a greater increase in demand by foreign and domestic customers.

In my opinion, there should be no surprise about a decrease in currency supply over the next twelve months. The fed funds rate will increase likely along with an increase in the amount of cash member banks are required to keep on reserve with the Fed. Less money in the system will lead to increases in interest rates. Increases may likely lead to increased yields making US bonds attractive.

People interested in retail forex trade should be mindful of brokers not on the up and up. Volatility and the size of the retail market is like blood in the water for less than scrupulous brokers selling you a pipe dream. Make the new year a great one.

Alton Drew

6.01.2022

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The Federal Reserve, U.S. Congress is quiet this week …

All is quiet at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System this week, at least when it comes to communications from the Board’s governors. None of the governors have speeches scheduled this week.

Congress continues its holiday with no hearings scheduled for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs until 5 January 2022. The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services has not yet set a calendar for January 2022.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a quiet calendar this week with no events impacting interest rates or foreign exchange scheduled this week. The holidays continue.

Alton Drew

27,12,2021