Interbank Market News Scan: Federal Reserve Board chairman appears before the U.S. Senate banking committee …

15 July 2021

Federal Reserve Board chairman continues testimony before Congress.

Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell is expected today to share with the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs the same testimony shared yesterday with the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

Mr Powell, while acknowledging growth in the economy and the threat of increasing prices, did not indicate any changes in the Federal Reserve’s current asset purchase program.  The Federal Reserve will maintain its purchase of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities totaling $120 billion a month.  

For a consultation on any regulatory or legislative discussions or announcements during today’s hearing, please reach out to us at altondrew@altondrew.com to reserve an appointment.

Exchange rates of interest as of 10:30 am AST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7448
EUR/USD*1.1812
GBP/USD*1.3854
USD/CAD*1.2520
USD/CHF*0.9143
USD/JPY*109.9600
USD/XCD+2.7000
USD/NGN+410.5130
USD/MXN*19.9260

Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 14 July 2021)

Effective Fed Funds Rate: 0.10%

Discount Window:  0.25%

Prime Bank Rate: 3.25%

4-week Treasury bill: 0.05%

3-month Treasury bill: 0.05%

6-month Treasury bill: 0.06%

1-year Treasury bill: 0.08%

Interbank Market News Scan: Powell to deliver testimony before Congress on monetary policy …

14 July 2021

Federal Reserve chairman today speaks on state of monetary policy.

Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell today will share with Congress his outlook on monetary policy as the United States economy continues to pull itself out of the economic doldrums imposed on it by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Mr Powell will share his observation that as the American economy continues to move toward levels of pre-pandemic economic performance, it will climb through transitory periods of inflation.  Increases in consumer prices may primarily be due to restraints on supply due in part to stressed supply chains.

Mr Powell will testify that the Federal Reserve is still focused on its long-term inflation goal of two percent.  Mr Powell will also note that asset valuations are increasing which in turn is feeding risk appetite amongst investors.  Mr Powell will also advise Congress that the Federal Reserve will continue to maintain its current policy of purchasing Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities currently amounting to $120 billion per month until labor market and other economic factors such as stable prices improve.

Mr Powell’s semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress is submitted pursuant to Section 2B of the Federal Reserve Act. The monetary policy report did not go into any detail regarding international trade or exchange rates.

For a consultation on any regulatory or legislative discussions or announcements during today’s hearing, please reach out to us at altondrew@altondrew.com to reserve an appointment.

Exchange rates of interest as of 12:15 pm AST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7478
EUR/USD*1.1819
GBP/USD*1.3879
USD/CAD*1.2454
USD/CHF*0.9163
USD/JPY*110.1200
USD/XCD+2.7000
USD/NGN+410.3770
USD/MXN*19.9560
Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 13 July 2021)

Effective Fed Funds Rate: 0.10%

Discount Window:  0.25%

Prime Bank Rate: 3.25%

3-month Treasury bill: 0.05%

6-month Treasury bill: 0.06%

1-year Treasury bill: 0.07%

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress puts spotlight on a recovering economy without emphasizing yield impacts …

The following is Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony before the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Financial Services:

“Chairwoman Waters, Ranking Member McHenry, and other members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the measures we have taken to address the hardship wrought by the pandemic.

I would like to start by noting the upcoming one-year anniversary of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic SecurityAct). With unanimous approval, Congress provided by far the fastest and largest response to any postwar economic downturn, offering fiscal support for households, businesses, health-care providers, and state and local governments. This historically important legislation provided critical support in our nation’s hour of need. As the virus arrived in force, our immediate challenge was to limit the severity and duration of the fallout to avoid longer-run damage. At the Fed, we also acted with unprecedented speed and force, using the full range of policy tools at our disposal.

Today the situation is much improved. While the economic fallout has been real and widespread, the worst was avoided by swift and vigorous action—from Congress and the Federal Reserve, from across government and cities and towns, and from individuals, communities, and the private sector. More people held on to their jobs, more businesses kept their doors open, and more incomes were saved. But the recovery is far from complete, so, at the Fed, we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes.

As we have emphasized throughout the pandemic, the path of the economy continues to depend on the course of the virus. Since January, the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has fallen, and ongoing vaccinations offer hope for a return to more normal conditions later this year. In the meantime, continued social distancing and mask wearing will help us reach that goal.

Indicators of economic activity and employment have turned up recently. Household spending on goods has risen notably so far this year, although spending on services remains low, especially in sectors that typically require in-person gatherings. The housing sector has more than fully recovered from the downturn, while business investment and manufacturing production have also picked up.

As with overall economic activity, conditions in the labor market have recently improved. Employment rose by 379,000 in February, as the leisure and hospitality sector recouped about two-thirds of the jobs it lost in December and January.

The recovery has progressed more quickly than generally expected and looks to be strengthening. This is due in significant part to the unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy actions I mentioned, which provided essential support to households, businesses, and communities.

However, the sectors of the economy most adversely affected by the resurgence of the virus, and by greater social distancing, remain weak, and the unemployment rate—still elevated at 6.2 percent—underestimates the shortfall, particularly as labor market participation remains notably below pre-pandemic levels.

We welcome this progress, but will not lose sight of the millions of Americans who are still hurting, including lower-wage workers in the services sector, African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups that have been especially hard hit.

The Federal Reserve’s response has been guided by our mandate to promote maximum employment and stable prices for the American people, along with our responsibilities to promote the stability of the financial system.

When financial markets came under intense pressure last year, we took broad and forceful actions, deploying both our conventional and emergency lending tools to more directly support the flow of credit. Our actions, taken together, helped unlock more than $2 trillion in funding to support businesses large and small, nonprofits, and state and local governments between April and December. This support, in turn, has helped keep organizations from shuttering and put employers in both a better position to keep workers on and to hire them back as the recovery continues.

Our programs served as a backstop to key credit markets and helped restore the flow of credit from private lenders through normal channels. We deployed these lending powers to an unprecedented extent last year. Our emergency lending powers require the approval of the Treasury and are available only in very unusual circumstances.

Many of these programs were supported by funding from the CARES Act. Those facilities provided essential support through a very difficult year. They are now closed, and the Federal Reserve has returned the large majority of the Treasury’s CARES Act equity, as required by law. Our other emergency lending facilities are following suit imminently, although we recently extended the PPPLF (Paycheck Protection Program Lending Facility) for another quarter to continue to support the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program).

Everything the Fed does is in service to our public mission. We are committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy and to help assure that the recovery from this difficult period will be as robust as possible on behalf of communities, families, and businesses across the country.

Thank you. I look forward to your questions.”

Interbank market news scan: Fed chair Powell shares economic output with US Senate …

The following opening statement was delivered by Jerome Powell, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System:

My takeaways

  • The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on minority group and low-wage workers.
  • The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy remains the same. No change in the two-percent longer-run inflation goal.
  • Current monetary policy of two percent longer-run inflation goal asserts an accounting for positive benefits to low and moderate income groups with a flexible inflation average target with two percent as the anchor.
  • The Federal Reserve will continue with its purchase of $120 billion a month in mortgage-backed and agency-backed securities each month.

“Chairman Brown, Ranking Member Toomey, and other members of the Committee, I am pleased to present the Federal Reserve’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report.

At the Federal Reserve, we are strongly committed to achieving the monetary policy goals that Congress has given us: maximum employment and price stability. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken forceful actions to provide support and stability, to ensure that the recovery will be as strong as possible, and to limit lasting damage to households, businesses, and communities. Today I will review the current economic situation before turning to monetary policy.

Current Economic Situation and Outlook
The path of the economy continues to depend significantly on the course of the virus and the measures undertaken to control its spread. The resurgence in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent months is causing great hardship for millions of Americans and is weighing on economic activity and job creation. Following a sharp rebound in economic activity last summer, momentum slowed substantially, with the weakness concentrated in the sectors most adversely affected by the resurgence of the virus. In recent weeks, the number of new cases and hospitalizations has been falling, and ongoing vaccinations offer hope for a return to more normal conditions later this year. However, the economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain.

Household spending on services remains low, especially in sectors that typically require people to gather closely, including leisure and hospitality. In contrast, household spending on goods picked up encouragingly in January after moderating late last year. The housing sector has more than fully recovered from the downturn, while business investment and manufacturing production have also picked up. The overall recovery in economic activity since last spring is due in part to unprecedented fiscal and monetary actions, which have provided essential support to many households, businesses, and communities.

As with overall economic activity, the pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed. Over the three months ending in January, employment rose at an average monthly rate of only 29,000. Continued progress in many industries has been tempered by significant losses in industries such as leisure and hospitality, where the resurgence in the virus and increased social distancing have weighed further on activity. The unemployment rate remained elevated at 6.3 percent in January, and participation in the labor market is notably below pre-pandemic levels. Although there has been much progress in the labor market since the spring, millions of Americans remain out of work. As discussed in the February Monetary Policy Report, the economic downturn has not fallen equally on all Americans, and those least able to shoulder the burden have been the hardest hit. In particular, the high level of joblessness has been especially severe for lower-wage workers and for African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups. The economic dislocation has upended many lives and created great uncertainty about the future.

The pandemic has also left a significant imprint on inflation. Following large declines in the spring, consumer prices partially rebounded over the rest of last year. However, for some of the sectors that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic, prices remain particularly soft. Overall, on a 12-month basis, inflation remains below our 2 percent longer-run objective.

While we should not underestimate the challenges we currently face, developments point to an improved outlook for later this year. In particular, ongoing progress in vaccinations should help speed the return to normal activities. In the meantime, we should continue to follow the advice of health experts to observe social-distancing measures and wear masks.

Monetary Policy
I will now turn to monetary policy. In the second half of last year, the Federal Open Market Committee completed our first-ever public review of our monetary policy strategy, tools, and communication practices. We undertook this review because the U.S. economy has changed in ways that matter for monetary policy. The review’s purpose was to identify improvements to our policy framework that could enhance our ability to achieve our maximum-employment and price-stability objectives. The review involved extensive outreach to a broad range of people and groups through a series of Fed Listens events.

As described in the February Monetary Policy Report, in August, the Committee unanimously adopted its revised Statement on Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy. Our revised statement shares many features with its predecessor. For example, we have not changed our 2 percent longer-run inflation goal. However, we did make some key changes. Regarding our employment goal, we emphasize that maximum employment is a broad and inclusive goal. This change reflects our appreciation for the benefits of a strong labor market, particularly for low- and moderate-income communities. In addition, we state that our policy decisions will be informed by our “assessments of shortfalls of employment from its maximum level” rather than by “deviations from its maximum level.”1 This change means that we will not tighten monetary policy solely in response to a strong labor market. Regarding our price-stability goal, we state that we will seek to achieve inflation that averages 2 percent over time. This means that, following periods when inflation has been running below 2 percent, appropriate monetary policy will likely aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time. With this change, we aim to keep longer-term inflation expectations well anchored at our 2 percent goal. Well-anchored inflation expectations enhance our ability to meet both our employment and inflation goals, particularly in the current low interest rate environment in which our main policy tool is likely to be more frequently constrained by the lower bound.

We have implemented our new framework by forcefully deploying our policy tools. As noted in our January policy statement, we expect that it will be appropriate to maintain the current accommodative target range of the federal funds rate until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time. In addition, we will continue to increase our holdings of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities at least at their current pace until substantial further progress has been made toward our goals. These purchases, and the associated increase in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, have materially eased financial conditions and are providing substantial support to the economy. The economy is a long way from our employment and inflation goals, and it is likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved. We will continue to clearly communicate our assessment of progress toward our goals well in advance of any change in the pace of purchases.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Federal Reserve has been taking actions to support more directly the flow of credit in the economy, deploying our emergency lending powers to an unprecedented extent, enabled in large part by financial backing and support from Congress and the Treasury. Although the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) facilities are no longer open to new activity, our other facilities remain in place.

We understand that our actions affect households, businesses, and communities across the country. Everything we do is in service to our public mission. We are committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy and to help ensure that the recovery from this difficult period will be as robust as possible.

Thank you, I am happy to take your questions.”

23 February 2021

Foreign exchange rates in light of Mnuchin, Powell testimony before the US Senate …

As of  11:23 am AST, 1 December 2020:

How to read the chart:

CAD/USD: If you come to the United States with one Canadian dollar (CAD)and wish to sell it for a US dollar (USD), the market price is .77051 USD.

USD/CAD: If you take a US dollar (USD) to Canada and wish to sell it for a Canadian dollar (CAD), the market price is 1.29766 CAD

CAD/USD=0.77051   USD/CAD=1.29766

CNH/USD= 0.15204   USD/CNH=6.57584

EUR/USD= 1.19642   USD/EUR=0.83573

DKK/USD =0.16075   USD/DKK=6.21944

NGN/USD= 0.00261    USD/NGN=378.336

JPY/USD=0.00960    USD/JPY=104.12

INR/USD=0.01351       USD/INR=73.8918

JMD/USD=0.00675     USD/JMD=145.028

GYD/USD=0.00469       USD/GYD= 205.043

GHS/USD=0.17028    USD/GHS= 5.82869

XCD/USD=0.37037        USD/XCD= 2.70

KES/USD = 0.00900       USD/KES= 109.047

BTC/USD= 16,987.20    USD/BTC= 0.00006

Source: OANDA

Major political/legal events impacting currencies

Today, Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, are testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.  Questions are expected to seek clarification as to Secretary Mnuchin’s request that remaining funds from the CARES Act be sent back to the Congress’ general fund.  Chairman Powell will reiterate the need for fiscal policy in the face of increasing COVID-19 infections and an economy that is still on the rebound.  

Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Long term yields tick up in anticipation of Powell, Mnuchin testimony …

As of 10:27 am AST 1 December 2020, U.S. Treasury rates and Federal Funds rates are as follows:

3-month: .08%

6-month: .09%

12-month: .10%

2-year: .16%

10-year: .88%

30-year: 1.62%

Fed Funds Rate: 0.08%

Federal Reserve Target: 0.25%

Prime Rate: 3.25%

Source: Bloomberg

Major political/legal events impacting currencies

Today, Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.  Questions are expected to seek clarification as to Secretary Mnuchin’s request that remaining funds from the CARES Act be sent back to the Congress’ general fund.  Chairman Powell will reiterate the need for fiscal policy in the face of increasing COVID-19 infections and an economy that is still on the rebound.  

Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs