Today we’ll take a closer look at the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to see the dudes and dudettes in favor of a change in the Fed’s very accommodating monetary policy. So far, we’ve only got 4 hawks out of 12 FOMC members. Want to know more about them? Read on then!
First on the list is Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Narayana Kocherlakota. He is a relatively new voting FOMC member who joined the Fed in October 2009. While not a full-fledged hawk like the others that I will be discussing, he does believe that this year’s economic growth will be much better than the previous one, even if the weak job market still poses a huge threat to economic recovery.
Second, we have Federal Board Kevin Warsh, who, I would call a true hawk. In a speech back in November, he was caught saying that he wasn’t optimistic with the Fed’s current quantitative easing program, and that the effects of the program will NOT likely have sustainable effects on the economy.
Warsh also said that there must be a change in the direction of monetary policy away from the quantitative easing mindset. Whether he is implying an interest rate hike or other unconventional measures to reduce liquidity, I do not know… but there is no doubt that he is hawkish.
However, it is important to note that Warsh will soon be vacating his position as Fed Governor next month. Once he’s gone, we could see the scales greatly tip in favor of the doves.
Another hawk circling the Fed’s nest is Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser. In his latest hometown speech Plosser hinted that the Fed might have to pull the plug on QE2 earlier than expected. He mentioned that improvement in employment and output figures might make the Fed reconsider coughing up financial accelerator until June, especially when protests in the Middle East are already speeding up inflationary pressures.
Last but definitely not the least is Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher. This dude has not only been hollering for a rate hike since mid-2010, but he has also openly opposed the possibility of extending QE2 beyond June this year. In fact, it was only last week when he mentioned that he would be among the first Fed members to vote for tighter monetary policy. How much more hawkish could you get with conviction like that?
By the looks of things, it may not be long before we see more hawks joining the band. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that we had only ONE hawk among the voting members of the committee -Thomas Hoenig.
Back in November 2010, he was the only voting member that voted against QE2. But ever since Hoenig lost his voting power, other hawks have stood up to represent the hawk camp.
This time around, I’m inclined to believe we’ll hear quite a few more objections against any motions towards further quantitative easing, especially after seeing the positive economic data that the U.S. has been posting lately.
Even market junkies are starting to feel more hawkish. In January, almost no one was expecting to see a rate hike this year. But in just a few weeks’ time, market analysts’ perspectives have changed. With inflation ticking higher, many are now expecting to see a 0.25% rate hike towards the end of 2011.
With that in mind, it might be a good idea to take a good look at that list of hawks you see above. This may be the last time you see it that short.