Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What would a Taylor Fed look like?

Bloomberg reported that Donald Trump interviewed John Taylor for the position of Fed chair and "Trump gushed about Taylor after his interview", as "Kevin Warsh has...seen his star fade within the White House". The current list of leading candidates under consider are said to be Jerome Powell, John Taylor, Kevin Warsh, and Janet Yellen. Taylor's rise in the candidate stakes is a bit of a surprise, as he had been regarded as a dark horse.

The question for investors is, "What would a Taylor Fed look like?"

Taylor is famous for the "Taylor Rule", which is a rules-based method of determining the Fed Funds rate. The rules-based approach is a favorite of the Republican audit-the-Fed crowd, and therefore Taylor will have substantial support should he get nominated. The standard application of the Taylor Rule would see the Fed Funds target substantially higher than it is today.

Despite these dire projections, Matthew Boesler at Bloomberg argued that a Taylor led Fed would not be substantially different from a Yellen Fed, because Taylor would have difficulty bringing the members of the FOMC to such a hawkish tilt to monetary policy:
Resistance from the other participants on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, which currently numbers 16 participants, is why investors need not worry too much about Chairman Taylor leading the Fed onto a much faster rate-hike path than the three rate increases next year penciled in by officials in quarterly forecasts updated in September.

“Taylor would have a very hard time persuading the rest of the FOMC to abide by the prescriptions of his original rule,” said Roberto Perli, a partner at Cornerstone Macro LLC in Washington. “In fact, he won’t be able to persuade hardly anyone -- there isn’t much sympathy in the FOMC for a policy that blindly follows rules.”
On the other hand, uber-dove Neel Kashkari of the Minneapolis Fed argued that the application of a Taylor rule would have kept millions out of work:
In December, I wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining that forcing the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to mechanically follow a rule, such as the Taylor rule, to set interest rates can cause tremendous harm to the economy and the American people. My staff at the Minneapolis Fed estimates that if the FOMC had followed the Taylor rule over the past five years, 2.5 million more Americans would be out of work today. That’s enough to fill the seats at all 31 NFL stadiums simultaneously, almost 6,000 more people out of work in every congressional district.
Who is right? How should we assess John Taylor as a potential Fed chair?

The full post can be found at our new site here.

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