September 21, 2020
CENTRAL BANK SEASON
Ryan Detrick, CMT, Chief Market Strategist, LPL Financial
Barry Gilbert, PhD, CFA, Asset Allocation Strategist, LPL Financial
Nick Pergakis, Analyst, LPL Financial
When seasons change, the major central banks meet. The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and Bank of Japan all met in September to discuss their outlooks on the economy and monetary policy going forward. Key observations from the central bank meetings include maintaining policy while keeping an eye on COVID-19.
Expectations for major changes at the Federal Reserve (Fed) September meeting were low. The Fed had completed its framework review at the annual central bank symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in late August and announced its shift toward flexible average inflation targeting then. While no major policy decisions were made at the September meeting, the Fed did alter the language of its guidance to align with the change in inflation targeting, allowing for potentially higher inflation before it would consider raising rates. The Fed “dot plot,” a graphical projection of when Fed members expect to see higher rates, revealed that voting members expect rates to remain at the zero-bound until at least 2023. The Fed also continues to express concern for downside risks to the economy.
Although the Fed has reiterated that negative policy rates seen in Europe and Japan are not under consideration, adjustments to the policy rate are only one mechanism for further easing of financial conditions. The Fed also can provide additional support through adjustments to its asset purchase programs or changes to other available liquidity facilities. However, the current stance may leave the Fed vulnerable to being blindsided by a better-than-expected recovery, which may have longer-term implications on inflationary forces.