In a Fed Staff working paper released over the weekend titled "Gauging the Ability of the FOMC to Respond to Future Recessions" and penned by deputy director of the division of research and statistics at the Fed, the author concludes that "simulations of the FRB/US model of a severe recession suggest that large-scale asset purchases and forward guidance about the future path of the federal funds rate should be able to provide enough additional accommodation to fully compensate for a more limited [ability] to cut short-term interest rates in most, but probably not all, circumstances."
So far so good, however, there are some notable problems with the paper's assumptions, as Citi head of G10 FX, Steven Englander, observes.
He writes that the paper’s basic framework is to take the standard US economic model used by the Fed, give it a negative shock big enough to push the unemployment rate up by 5 percentage points (big but not unprecedented over the last 50 years) and deploying the Fed’s policy rate, QE and forward guidance tools to see if they are adequate to get the economy back on track. Negative rates and helicopter money are not used.
The two simulations assume:
- the economy is in equilibrium initially with inflation at 2%, r* at 1%, so equilibrium nominal fed funds is 3%
- the economy is in equilibrium initially with inflation at 2%, r* at zero (secular stagnation) and equilibrium nominal fed funds at 2%
He compares three policy approaches. The first assumes a linear world where fed funds can go into negative territory but there is no breakdown in the structure of economic relationships. It is probably not a realistic view of policy ineffectiveness at negative rates, but it is mean to be a baseline. The second just takes fed funds down to zero and keeps it there long enough for unemployment to return to baseline.
As we have mentioned silver is rolling over and gold to some extent, so another buying opportunity could soon present itself.
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