As expected, Fed Governor Jerome Powell was overwhelmingly voted in as the new Federal Reserve Chairperson in January. Even Democrats were largely in favor of his leadership.
In spite of Trump’s aggressive talk on loosening some of the restraints on businesses in the US, Powell is not expected to make any radical changes, at least, not in the near future. In fact, he has always held much the same position as outgoing chair Janet Yellen when it comes to FED policy-making.
“This should provide some measure of peace to anyone who is planning to or thinking about borrowing money in the coming months,” says Cambridge Realty Capital Companies Chairman Jeffrey Davis.
Yellen had a tough job following the economic crash of 2008, working with the Fed to pull the US out of its slump and set it on an upward, yet gradual trajectory. Although some of the Fed’s moves throughout the previous term were criticized, it seems that a majority of Americans are satisfied and even happy with the recovery of the economy.
Interest rate hikes that have been alluded to for months now will almost certainly still be taking place, although there is speculation among experts on their number and frequency. The talk throughout Yellen’s last year as chair was of three hikes in 2018. While some think this won’t change, others are predicting as few as two or as many as four.
Powell himself has maintained a focus on continuity as the guard changes at the Fed. Powell has always voted along with Yellen on policy, and many Americans expect that he will continue along those moderate lines.
The sudden and severe drop in the stock market in early February set off a wave of panic throughout the country, causing some experts to rethink their predictions for the US economy. However, the market has since corrected itself, with professionals in a variety of sectors weighing in on the plunge.
“While they can be scary, market pullbacks prevent stocks from overheating and give investors who were stuck on the sideline a chance to get in,” wrote CNN’s Matt Egan as the market slowly and quietly began to right itself again. (http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/05/investing/stock-market-today-dow-jones/index.html) Yellen came out in the press and commented on her belief that “asset valuations generally are elevated.”
In spite of the recent anomaly in the market, and although opinions still vary, “splitting the difference at three interest rate hikes, the number predicted all along for 2018, is a safe bet,” Davis believes. “Those who are able to borrow sooner rather than later will benefit from getting a jump on the rise in rates. However, those who can’t will likely not be hit with any surprise hikes beyond what the Fed has been hinting at for months.”
Policies that were made under Yellen have led to success in the areas of the unemployment rate and interest rates. However, it failed to achieve a 2% target in the area of inflation. Yellen referred to that shortfall as her “undone work,” left for Powell to strategize over.
The next Fed meeting is set for March 20-21. “There may still be time to borrow money at the current rate before any potential hikes take effect,” Davis states.