Monday, September 21, 2020

Bloomberg: Robert Kaplan on forward guidance

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan was one of two dissenters (along with Neel Kashkari) to last week's Fed decision to signal that they'll keep rates near zero through 2023.

In a Bloomberg TV interview, Kaplan said he believes "we should keep the current setting of the fed funds rate, i.e., at zero (0 - 25 bps) until we've weathered the pandemic and we're well on track to achieve full employment and price stability," which he thinks will take at least 2 to 3 years. After that it's probably appropriate to remain accommodative, but he would "rather leave those judgments to future committees" who can incorporate the relevant factors of a world that might look very different post-pandemic.

When pushed on whether that was important enough to dissent on, Kaplan said that in addition to giving future committees more decision-making flexibility, the costs were not worth the benefits in terms of market expectations:

"I'd rather use forward guidance where we got more positive benefit. Going into the meeting the world already thought that rates were going to stay extremely low for the next two or three years" so it's hard to see the benefits of this commitment. On the negative side, for people in the asset markets (savers, pension funds, insurance companies): "if you're a market participant, it basically gives you a signal that you need to take more risk ... my concern is about building up excess risk taking which can create fragilities and other excesses in the system, which are hard to see in real-time ... the costs were not worth the benefits."

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