Daily Traders Edge

What To Expect From The Fed – Bloomberg

August 17
14:41 2016

With the U.S. economy still running below potential and the rest of the world presenting ample challenges to growth, this week’s release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July policy-making meeting should garner a lot of interest among economists and market participants. I see five areas where the minutes can provide insight into how officials perceive the balance of risks and what actions they might take.

  1. Jobs and wages. The labor market is looking much stronger after a disappointing reading for the month of May, with employers adding plenty of jobs, wage growth picking up and the unemployment rate staying relatively low. This suggests that slack is disappearing, but with one important caveat: The labor-force participation rate is edging up from near multi-decade lows, which is good news, suggesting that the economy has not yet reached full employment (the point beyond which inflation tends to become a problem). What we don’t know — and where the minutes might provide some clues — is how far away Fed officials think the full-employment target is.
  1. Productivity. U.S. workers’ output per hour has been in a slump. This has contributed to the divergence between a robust labor market and the broader economy, where growth remained frustratingly low in the first six months of this year. Economists offer various explanations for the poor productivity performance, ranging from measurement slippages to much more consequential long-term forces. In the minutes, Fed officials might provide some clues, albeit far from decisive.

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