Sunday, July 27, 2014

3 reasons Yellen's FOMC remains dovish

What makes Janet Yellen and a number of other FOMC members so dovish with respect to monetary policy and in particular the trajectory of rate normalization? A Credit Suisse report sites 3 key factors, which Yellen calls  “unusual  headwinds":

1. Tighter fiscal policy.

The combination of lower government spending and tax increases has created a drag on economic growth (see chart). This drag is now diminishing, but given the tepid recovery Yellen still views it as a headwind.

2. Relatively tight credit in the mortgage market.
Janet Yellen: - " ... it is difficult for any homeowner who doesn't have pristine credit these days to get a mortgage. I think that is one of the factors that is causing the housing recovery to be slow. It’s not the only one, but I would agree with that assessment."
A recent study by Goldman compared current lending conditions in the mortgage market with the 2000 - 2002 period (supposedly "pre-bubble" period). The results indeed seem to point to tighter lending standards at this time (see chart).

3. Low household wage growth expectations.

While US wages have been growing at around 2% per year, expectations for growth remain depressed.
Yellen (see House testimony video below): - " ... households have unusually depressed expectations about their own future income gains. And I think weighs on their feelings about their own household finances and is holding back consumer spending."

Source: Credit Suisse

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