All eyes are on the big Fed meeting today, but we might not get a game plan for awhile

Friday, August 27, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures
_Waiting for the Fed to text back like... [Image Source via GettyImages]_

Waiting for the Fed to text back like... Image Source via GettyImages

Jerome puts on his Zoom face.... We're imagining a "raining hundreds" background. Investors have eyes on the Fed's annual Jackson Hole meeting today, which is being held virtually. Wall Street wants to know if the central bank is prepared to wind down its massive pandemic bond-buying program, which has helped economic recovery.

  • Since March 2020, the Fed has added trillions to the money supply through bond-buying. It's currently dropping a whopping $120B per month on Treasury and mortgage bonds.
  • How it works: The Fed buys bonds from banks, and the new cash that banks receive flows through to consumers and businesses through loans, etc.
  • Why it works: All that money helped bring us ultra-low interest rates during the pandemic, which boosted spending. Think: lower rates for mortgages and biz loans.

Inflated = the new bloated... The Fed's "easy money" policy has helped the S&P 500 — a benchmark for US stocks — nearly double in value since March 2020. But as the economy swiftly recovers and prices rise (#flated), the central bank is considering reigning in its policy this year. Notes from the Fed's latest July meeting suggest the economy is closer to achieving the Fed’s inflation and employment goals.

  • Unemployment was at 5.4% in July, down from 10.2% a year ago — but it's still 2% higher than the pre-pandemic rate. Job recovery has slowed, despite record openings.
  • Inflation: Consumer prices are up 5.4% from last year, and the Fed's ultra-low interest rate policies aren't helping.
  • GDP: While the US economy is rebounding, many economists have downgraded their estimates for yearly growth as the Delta variant surges.

We're all in the same boat... The Fed, investors, and businesses are facing the same uncertainty with Delta. That's why the Fed might not share its tapering plans today — or for months. Since the Fed's last update: Covid cases and hospitalizations have doubled, more companies and governments have re-imposed restrictions, and consumer spending and confidence have dropped. The Fed's not the only one wondering how Delta will affect recovery.