Monday, January 26, 2015

FOMC Report; January 27-28, 2015





Bullet Points:

  • Statement largely unchanged
  • Moderate pace of economic growth language kept
  • Labor market improved
  • Inflation below SEP projection
  • No change in reinvestment of principal and interest
  • No notice of impact from weaker global growth
  • No dissenting  
  • Absence of Federal Reserve ‘Policy Path’ increasingly unsettling 
 


On Statement Changes

Continued moderate growth in economic activity is expected to be indicated even with some weaker data points seen since the last meeting.  Readings on inflation since the last FOMC meeting have fallen below most recent SEP projections.  The minutes of the December FOMC meeting indicated that still lower inflation was expected over the near term; “With lower energy prices and the stronger dollar likely to keep inflation below target for some time, it was noted that the Committee might begin normalization at a time when core inflation was near current levels, although in that circumstance participants would want to be reasonably confident that inflation will move back toward 2 percent over time.”

As such, there is no reason to highlight recent inflation developments differently than indicated in the last statement; “Inflation has continued to run below the Committee's longer-run objective, partly reflecting declines in energy prices.”  The Fed may choose to forgo repeating; “Market-based measures of inflation compensation have declined somewhat further; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable."

Finally, no change should be expected in the guidance statement; “the Committee judges that it can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy.”  Of course there will be no reason to repeat; “The Committee sees this guidance as consistent with its previous statement that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time following the end of its asset purchase program in October”.  If the statement continues to include “especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal”, this could be interpreted to mean a June FOMC meeting policy rate ‘lift-off’ is unlikely.


On Inflation Pressure and Normalization

In the December FOMC minutes, participants made clear they expected continued pressure on inflation; ‘Participants generally anticipated that inflation was likely to decline further in the near term, reflecting the reduction in oil prices and the effects of the rise in the foreign exchange value of the dollar on import prices.’  To the extent recent declines in inflation match expectations, one should wonder how much more pressure on inflation, if any, is consistent with an interest in normalizing policy ahead of reaching the 2% target.

Temporary disinflationary effects from the oil shock and higher dollar should not dissuade Fed officials from convictions that an inflation goal of 2% can be reached in the intermediate term.  Unless there is grave concern that the oil shock and stronger dollar are masking a structural change in inflation, the Fed should not be expected to require a recovery from of the most recent down tic in inflation readings before initiating a mild policy rate move away from the zero-bound.


On Recent Volatility and the Absence of Fed Policy Path

Neither labor market growth nor inflation has allowed economic agents to build confidence lately in the Fed’s projections for lifting the policy rate toward mid-year.  There is still time so that the Fed needn’t abandon data-dependent plans for following that script.  However, markets have been overly volatile as date based guidance has been abandoned while uneven progress has been made toward attaining the Fed’s dual mandate goals.  

The Fed is unlikely to return anytime soon to the employment of additional accommodation and it has indicated it is not quite ready to proceed in removing accommodation.  This middle ground between additions and subtraction to accommodation is a highly volatile period for markets.  Until such time as a Fed policy path can be more clearly envisioned by economic agents, there is little reason to expect that markets will quiet.

At the December 2013 FOMC meeting the Fed laid out plans to eliminate additional accommodation it was providing through the purchase program.  It proposed discrete incremental declines in amount of assets purchased through October 2014.  That program of accommodation dismemberment was a ‘policy prescription’ or what I like to refer to as a ‘policy path’.  This ‘policy path’ description held benefit beyond the communicated implication that the need for economic support was abating. 

To some extent the ‘policy path’ described at the December 2013 FOMC meeting (predicted in my FOMC Report) allowed economic agents through a better understanding the Fed’s intent, a greater level of confidence in being able to decipher the unfolding of forthcoming economic events.  In providing a policy path for the elimination of the purchase program, the Fed induced some greater willingness on the part of market participants to assume risk, despite the steady removal of additional accommodations.

Until such time as economic agents are again confident that they understand a policy path for Fed intent, ideally one which involves a plan for accommodation removal, there is room for continued asset price unrest and a holding back of capital-at-risk from application.  This is likely one of the strongest reasons for the Fed to move forward in advancing the policy rate, if even only slightly, above the zero bound.  Little, if any, adverse economic impact will attend slightly higher policy rates as the level of accommodation in will remain at extreme levels.  Importantly however, a small move toward accommodation removal will induce economic agents to again form longer timeframe views for Fed policy path which should be expected to increase their willingness to assume risk.       

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guidance for mid-2015 Policy Move to Provide Stability



Guidance for mid-2015 Policy Move to Provide Stability

A small risk remains for disinflationary pressures.  However, the scale is tilted so marginally at present that it should tip toward excess growth and inflationary pressures at anytime.  The oil shock which shall be transitory will not have a lasting grip on inflation.  In fact, the lower oil prices today may in a short time serve to boost inflation expectations again as generally rising energy prices equate to rising inflation expectations.    

I shall keep the discussion about specific changes to policy prescription for this meeting to a minimum (see bullet points below) as I believe a strong majority have a good handle on that outcome.  Instead, we will review the nature of volatility as it relates to shifts in monetary policy paths from accommodative to less accommodating.    

Regular readers here will remember that we have advanced the notion that the Fed would not discard the ‘considerable time’ language until it was rendered meaningless and throwing off an odor similar to that from a long dead rodent under a back deck. 

It is not so much that a policy rate move is necessarily so nearby that renders ‘considerable time’ less useful – though such a move is nearby.  Instead, rather than providing economic agents additional confidence in the form of a longer period of knowable policy path as it once did, ‘considerable time’ has become a distraction to economic growth in that it attracts attention to the uncertainty surrounding the shifting policy stance.   

Consider briefly the four monetary policy transitions during a regular policy cycle: Easy to Neutral, Neutral to Tighter, Tight to Neutral and finally Neutral to Easing.  The transition from Easy to Neutral (accommodative to less accommodative) monetary policy is the part of the Fed cycle that affords the most risk.  Said differently, this is the part of the Fed’s policy cycle that rightly requires the most data dependency.  Especially at the zero-bound, the Fed wants to get the timing right.  An aborted policy transition here could prompt a long period of policy uncertainty and result, all else equal, in lower levels of risk assumption and viable productivity investment. 

‘Considerable time’ language fails to provide any stability as regards an understanding of the likely policy path and thus is expected to be removed at the December meeting.  ‘Considerable time’ was rendered nearly useless following the addendum attached at the last FOMC meeting noting that a policy response could come either sooner or later should data unexpectedly shifts in either direction. 

We had come to expect that the nearness to a policy shift, still expected in mid-2015 would create more volatile markets and we have seen as much in equities, interest rates and commodities, most particularly oil of late.  The VIX index sports a 50 day moving average that is higher than any since January 2013 at 15.8.  The Move (Merrill Lynch 1-month Implied Treasury Volatility Index) 50 day moving average is higher than any since December of last year.  These indexes help to demonstrate the heightened uncertainty surrounding upcoming but still less definitive monetary policy shift.      

Market calm generally experienced over the last few years has allowed households and business to repair their balance sheets, even though thus far there has been less than hoped for consumer spending and business investment.  Market calm was brought about in part by the strong conviction economic agents had in their clear understanding of where short term rates would be over a longer timeframe.  Greater calm induced by policy path certainty brought about a stronger economic response than seen earlier in the financial crisis. 

The point of policy flux from increasing to decreasing levels of accommodation is now near enough that the visibility or confidence level surrounding expectations for policy path and available liquidity have diminishes.  This tempers an overall willingness to assume risk. As such, pockets where an abundance of investment was earlier directed can be found extended and subject to liquidity constraints. 

This may be helpful in understanding the current oil shock and repercussions for other markets.  Attractive borrowing rates and extraordinary liquidity may have prompted a greater than currently sustainable flow of funds toward shale oil discovery, extraction and transportation.  This condition, like housing in the mid-2000’s reached beyond the physical markets and into credit standards and types of financial instruments used to finance such operations.  As long as the underlying asset, then housing and today arguably oil, were expected to command stable to growing prices, the willingness of lenders to make funds available was strong. 

One might argue that the housing bubble of mid-2000’s and today’s oil shock are entirely different in that the housing bubble happened during a period where the Fed was removing accommodation, whereas today the Fed has held policy rates near zero for 6 years.  How can the repercussions of excessive leverage and malinvestment in the housing market a decade ago compare with the investment in energy production and today’s oil shock?  Does this mean that the Fed cannot proceed with accommodation removal because the recovery has been jeopardized by a well articulated policy rate path over the last 6 years? 

To the first question, we might recognize that the housing bubble and subsequent dislocation as well as what some are now calling the shale bubble were both born out of very predictable Fed monetary policy regimes (paths).  It is not so important that policy rates in 2004-2006 were higher than rates today.  Instead, we should concentrate on the fact that the path for policy rates was as predictable then as they have been for some time now.  It is not so much that rates are today near zero, as that moving them prompts dislocation.  Near zero policy rates were once predictable across a great swath of the policy path timeline and are no longer as knowable.  Then as now, the confidence held by economic agents in their understanding of the path for policy rates became diminished.  Currently the debate rages about when the Fed will first raise the policy rate and by how much that rate will rise through time. 

In contrast, when the Fed in 2006 chose to discontinue the path toward successive, marginal and completely telegraphed 25 basis point policy rate increases, it short-circuited a most dependable policy path.  Economic agents had so relied on the nature and predictability of that policy path that the longstanding time lag between policy initiative and the effects felt on the economy had become grossly stretched.  By the time the Fed exited the policy path of 25 basis points, per meeting of policy rate firming, the build-up of malinvestment was great.  The snapback from an elongated time lag between policy initiative and its effects on the economy was extreme.  All at once, the effect of those marginal rate increases came to bear on the economy.  Forestalled by the nature of policy guidance, the absence of that guidance compressed that lagged effect.   

Today, the Fed is moving closer to changing policy.  The Fed is rightly becoming more confident in the need for a policy shift not because of excessive malinvestment and accompanying systematic risk, though there is a healthy concern and attention focused in that direction.  Instead, a majority of Fed officials have become increasingly confident that the economy shows strong enough signs of stable growth that the slack in resource allocation will further diminish.  The urgency felt for this course of action toward higher rates is tempered by only slow and uneven increase in inflation thus far. 

The predictability of the Fed policy rate path had until recently been very clear for years.  The Fed told us as far back as September 2012 at the FOMC meeting that policy rates were likely to remain low until at least mid-2015.  At that same meeting they introduced ‘considerable time’ to describe a period for which a highly accommodative monetary policy stance would be appropriate following the strengthening of the economic recovery.  They have consistently used this phrase since.  This guidance has of course offered, until recently, a strong confidence in the likely path for policy rates.  

Mid-2015 is the most widely expected launch date for policy initiative more than 2 years later. Economic agents found that policy rate timeline understanding very supportive and it gave them a greater willingness to take on risk.  Were it not for a wide output gap and rolling concerns that the economy might slip back into a recession, these economic agents would have been more aggressive in their assumption of risk to take advantage of this condition.   

There were of course some areas where economic agents were sufficiently incentivized to make use of the understanding of steady state policy rates for a ‘considerable time’.  As a case in point, extraction costs of $60-$70 a barrel for shale oil, give or take $10 or so depending on a multitude of factors, against a price range of $75-115 since 2011 along with a confidence that the Fed would keep rates low until at least mid-2015 was incentive enough for many to get involved. 

Today, only 6 months away from mid-2015, economic agents are comically becoming more greatly aware that the path for policy rates is not sufficiently predictable.  They can rely on generally low rates over the coming year, but they cannot be as certain about the path for rates as they had been earlier this year.  This in large part is why oil fell as much as it did, why spreads between Treasuries and high yield securities have widened and why equity and commodity markets more generally have been volatile.

It is much easier to invest for the long term when one has great confidence in their understanding of financing costs or ‘hurdle rate’ for next two years.  This is what a path for policy rates can bring.  Whether those rates are steady, steadily declining or steadily increasing, a known path for policy rates is extremely supportive of economic activity when a large enough output gap exists and an agent for malinvestment when the gap is marginal.

When I was a boy scout I went to a camp that allowed us to shoot skeet with a buckshot 22.  I had limited success initially until I recognized that if I waited for the clay pigeon to break either right or left, I could more easily predict the path and place the shot in its expected path.  Right now, with respect to fed guidance, the pigeon is launched but it hasn’t broke in either direction; so we sit on our hands waiting for the break.      

The risk that extreme malinvestement, cause by extraordinary confidence in a known policy path over the last 5 years had of course been greatly tempered by the size of the output gap that existed.  The Fed is completely correct in providing all measures of support for economic growth during times of distress which create wide and unwanted gaps between economic potential and current conditions.  As those gaps disappear, the need for and danger in providing assurances in policy path for rates becomes greater. 

As the Fed moves from more to less accommodation provided, it will at least initially want to maintain as high a level of predictability about the policy rate and the use of other policy tools as possible.  In doing so, it will continue to provide support through communication and understandings for policy path which will soften the unavoidable uncertainty economic agents have around the policy shift. 

What the Fed should do eventually and where they got it wrong in the mid-2000’s, is to reduce guidance as the economy improves.  This may appear to some as irresponsible Fed behavior but it is not.  If high levels of monetary policy transparency are to accompany strong economic growth near full employment and minimal resource slack, the Fed will have to raise policy rates significantly more to counterbalance the support that policy transparency provides.  The Fed can begin to withdrawal some measure of active support through reducing policy guidance as economic agents gain confidence about sustainability strong economic conditions.  In effect, the support provided by a knowable policy path can be replaced by confidence in economic conditions.

Compared to the mid-2000’s, the Fed will have reason other than the level of rates to pare back its support through communications.  For a protracted period forthcoming, the risk for higher long term Treasury rates as economic progress is achieved is reduced by the lack of supply and Fed holdings of these securities.  Upward pressure on long term rates from rising term premium as a result of increased volatility in short term rates will be countered in part by the downward pressure on rates from the stock effect of the Fed’s portfolio. 

The Fed Understands the Significance of Policy Path

At a recent luncheon meeting on Monday December 8th, Atlanta Fed President Lockhart noted the danger in making the path for policy rates less easy to read.  With regard to the danger of ‘reversing a start to interest-rate normalization’ Lockhart indicated; ‘There would be real costs associated with an irresolute path of policy.’  More important than the concern Lockhart expressed for lost Fed’s creditability as the result of an aborted policy firming would be the disruption cause by a less understood Fed policy path.   Fed creditability aside, a break from a strongly anticipated path for policy rates from the zero bound would do damage to the level of risk economic agent would be willing to take for some time. 

The best way to avoid having to break an expected policy path from the zero bound is to postpone that adjustment until greater assurances can be made that a rate hike will not need to be reversed.  This is essentially the argument that Chicago Fed Evans has been making.  We should expect Fed officials are well aware of these conditions on the approach of policy rate lift-off and expect they will have waited sufficiently long enough to be reasonably sure they will avoid having to reverse a policy initiative.  There is a growing level of confidence both inside and outside the Fed that mid-2015 will allow sufficient time to recognize the stability and sustainability of economic growth. 

Pain in the form of higher volatility from increased levels of uncertainty surrounding a policy change from accommodation add to accommodation removal is already weighing upon the markets.  Following through with a longstanding expectation for an initial policy rate move in mid-2015 is the least painful way through current uncertainty.  On the other side of the first policy rate hike, where expectations for pace and duration of accommodation removal reside, another elongated period for understanding policy path waits.  The Fed would do well to get to the other side of the first policy move and return to heightened levels of certainty about the path for policy rates.  In doing so, the Fed will be closing the door on policy uncertainty and likely opening a huge can of ‘animal spirits’.    

An initiation of accommodation removal starting next year is clearly expected and largely supported by Fed officials in general.  Any artificial vagueness about likely policy firming plan could damage Fed creditability and add volatility to markets. If the Fed is predictable about the process of shifting from accommodative to a less accommodating policy stance, the potential level of market dislocation can be reduced. 

The clearest way to reduce dislocation at this point is to remove ‘considerable time’ and replace it with a reference about a willingness to be ‘patient’ in attending to accommodation removal as was done in 2004.  Economic agents know that script and that familiarity will lend stability to markets. 

A Thought for Tomorrow: Term Premium and Long Rates Then and Now

In 2004-2006 the reduction in short-term interest rate variance expected and realized around the policy rate path brought about extreme pressure on the term premium, helping to keep longer dated rates lower than they would otherwise have been.  If the stock effect of the Fed’s portfolio is expected to maintain downward pressure on long rates, the Fed might be required either to raise policy rates more quickly for a given level of sustainable growth above potential or reduce the level of supportive guidance about the path for policy rates.  The former would be expected and the latter would indicate lessons learned from the 2004-2006 ‘measured pace’ disaster.    

So as not to appear uncaring about details of policy prescription provided at this meeting, I would offer the following bullet points:
  • The Fed drops ‘considerable time’ and replaces with ‘patience’
  • The statement strengthens language about economic and job growth
  • Oil price declines are noted and recognized for having only transitory impact on inflation
  • Continued reinvestment of maturing securities and principal payments with no additional guidance given as yet
  • SEP dots roughly unchanged – possible small shift lower in fed funds rate projection 2015
  • SEP – small up-tic to real GDP ’15 and ’16
  • SEP – small down-tic to unemployment rate ’15 and ‘16
  • Q&E – Yellen to acknowledge some comfort and confidence in being able to move forward with policy shift

As an Aside: If someone wants to buy a used pick-up truck today, he would not look in Chicago where gasoline prices are suddenly lower, he looks in North Dakota where gasoline prices are suddenly lower, but also are the number of help wanted signs. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FOMC Report - October 28-29, 2014; 'Taper-Tantrum to Successful Policy-Path Guidance'



Taper-Tantrum to Successful Policy-Path Guidance


Executive Summary

Recent market volatility in fixed income, equities, commodities and foreign exchange is largely the result of greater uncertainty surrounding the path for monetary policy, a situation that will not soon change.  A reduction in usable (visibility-aiding) Fed forward guidance accompanies the transition from ‘time’ to ‘data-dependent’ policy guidance.  Similar bouts of volatility are possible and even likely until a greater sense of confidence surrounds the timing of the first policy rate increase and its aftermath.     

The Fed will announce the end of the securities purchase program (QE3) as initially outlined at the December 2013 FOMC meeting.  The ‘considerable time’ language will remain without value adjustments. There is room for a slight and conditioned upgrade in the employment situation and an acknowledgement of moderation in inflationary pressures.  However, if these modest amendments are offered in the statement, they will be referenced such that no policy adjustment is implied.  Finally, and without consequence, the statement may note recent weaker global growth, reduction in energy prices or the recent market gyration.   

Current Eurodollar, Treasury and Fed Fund futures prices and their implied projections for an initial policy rate move in late 2015 as well as current market participant positioning, suggests the risk is for higher yields and for the statement to imply a less dovish Fed policy intent than currently priced in the market.    


Volatility and Visibility

Economic agents have become accustomed to a greater level of time-dependent policy guidance.  The recent spike in market volatility is an expected outgrowth of the reduction in visibility along the monetary policy prescription timeline.  While data dependency has forever been at the core of Fed policy intent, the construction of guidance, using calendar reference has heightened the confidence of economic agents for their forecasts on interest rates and other policy variable levels. 

The Fed has offered numerous ‘promises’ to maintain policy accommodation for specific periods or dates in the future.  The oldest and still valid time reference guidance was made in the September 2012 FOMC statement; ‘In particular, the Committee also decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate are likely to be warranted at least through mid-2015.’  So far, this statement has given accurate and visible guidance for more than 2 of its projected 2.75 years of Fed monetary policy timeline.  It is difficult to calculate the value of this support.  Its ongoing support however, aside from its creditability enhancement is certainly worth less today than it was in late 2012.         

Additionally, guidance afforded by the timely regular reduction and elimination of the securities purchase program known as QE3 is also coming to an end.  This program initiated as open-ended starting with agency mortgage-backed mortgage securities, advanced to include treasury purchases.  It is widely believed, despite St. Louis Fed President Bullard’s urging otherwise, the Fed will conclude the program with an announcement at this meeting.  The Fed has no good reason to disappoint in this regard. Some economists have not embraced the notion of the tapering of securities purchases as guidance even though they used this Feds guidance on the path for scaling the purchases in their macroeconomic forecasting models.       

Though the reduction in securities purchases from a level of $85 billion per month, begun in January 2014 resulted in gradually lesser amounts of additional stimulus provided, the known ‘policy-path’ timeline advance of those adjustments aided economic agents in their ability to project Treasury and spread rates based on that schedule.  To that extent therefore, the guidance provided by the stated intent of scheduled, discrete and calculable changes in the Feds securities purchase plans provided additional visibility along the Feds policy timeline. 

A much anticipated approach of the transition from increasing to decreasing levels of accommodation has begun.  The transition does not allow for the kind of Fed timeline guidance that provided support while policy goals were further from reach.  Timeline references such as ‘mid-2013’, ‘late-2014’ and ‘mid-2015’ have been replaced by ‘timeline-light’ references such as ‘considerable time’, ‘patience’, and ‘some time’.  Because of the strong possibility for additional disruptive market volatility on the approach of policy normalization as an outgrowth of reduced visibility, the Fed should be expected to continue to use ‘timeline-light’ references until its first policy rate hike.  

Though the continuation of vague calendar or time references about future policy intent will irk some Fed officials, a majority will be expected to carry forward this effort. Therefore, given the reduction in the visibility provided by Fed guidance in the loss of the policy-path tapering and the erosion of time to a mid-2015 policy rate adjustment, we should expect that despite some argument from both doves and hawks, the ‘considerable time’ language is likely to remain until at least December. 


Success of Policy-Path Tapering

There was no schedule, reference to process or time until completion offered in the May/June 2013 outburst(s) where then Fed Chairman Bernanke indicated the Fed would likely begin scaling back the level of securities purchases.  The latest efforts toward providing monetary policy support at the zero bound (QE3) had been categorically different from previous efforts because this latest program had no stated ending date or limit to the amount of securities eventually to be purchased in the program.  As such this program carried a stronger message that the Fed was willing to go to great lengths to insure its success.  Any signal or Fed conveyance of interest to end such a program needed to provide a level of detail commensurate with the importance of that program.  The lack of that detail offered in May/June ‘13 about the scaling back in securities purchases caused great concern and a dramatic jump in yields.

At the December 2013 FOMC meeting, the Fed outlined a program for reducing the monthly level of securities purchased by $10B and laid out a plan for ending the purchase program according to a schedule that would include regular and similar reductions in amounts purchased.  At that meeting the Fed indicated the $10B reduction starting in January would ‘modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases’.  They also noted that if continued progress toward policy goals was achieved they would ‘likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings.’  By using ‘modest’ to describe the initial purchase reduction and by indicating ‘further measured steps’ for progress, the Fed outlined a detailed ‘policy-path’ for tapering.

Unlike mid-2013, the clear pronouncement of the schedule for eliminating the purchase program gave economic agents an advance preview of forthcoming Fed monetary policy timeline, providing anyone who chose, an opportunity to plot out a path for the winding down of the program, of course conditional on steady expected progress on policy goals.  Although the Fed was reducing the amount of additional monthly stimulus, it provided something in its place; visibility.  As such there was no adverse reaction as was witnessed in the mid-2013 ‘taper-tantrum’.  The Fed had succeeded by using its ability to add visibility to the monetary policy timeline, providing truly usable forward guidance. 


Fed Guidance Now

 The nature of Fed guidance is changing on the approach of normalization in monetary policy.  Timeline references become absent as we near the inevitable policy rate movement above the zero-bound.  Less definitive catchwords are used, such as the current ‘considerable time’ which many believe to include at least several FOMC meetings or nearly half a year.  This phrase, casually suggested to mean roughly 6 months when Fed Chair Yellen spoke at her first post-FOMC press conference, lost some of that clarity when Fed Governor Stanley Fischer more recently suggested it could mean anywhere from 2-12 months.    

The absence of timeline visibility in monetary policy on approach of transitioning from easy to less accommodative policy intent is naturally a period of angst.  By forwarding a schedule of intended steps for the process of normalization (‘Exit Plan’), the Fed adds back some level of certainty reduced by their inability to provide timeline or date dependent guidance on the policy rate. 

Further, the Fed will likely give some additional information about the timing and process for reducing and eliminating the reinvestment of its portfolio interest and principle receipts.  We should expect this guidance to be somewhat similar to the structure of the ‘policy-path’ for tapering.  The announcement of that process will provide some timeline policy visibility, offering support during a period of adjustment toward policy normalization.      

Of course the Fed’s post-FOMC meeting statement will continue to be a strong source of guidance, as will the Minutes and the Beige Book.  All of these regular opportunities for communication can provide a picture of policy stability and foresight, offering both financial and economic support. 

The most recent beige book made great efforts to paint a picture that conditions had not changed much at all since the last Beige Book was presented in front of the September FOMC meeting.  There were no fewer than seven instances, covering overall economic growth, consumer spending, employment and price pressures, where the pace of growth was indicated to have been consistent with the previous reporting period.  The message here is that we should not expect great change in either the statement or the current path for monetary policy despite recent short-lived market turmoil.