Now that the Jackson Hole Summit is already over, let’s review what the central bank officials and economic experts had to say. Will their outlook have a significant impact on forex trends? Here are the main takeaways from the event.
1. Low inflation ain’t a problem?
One of the biggest surprises from the event was that a few top officials from the major central banks seemed to think that low inflation isn’t really a huge concern. Keep in mind that most major economies have been lagging far behind their 2% annual inflation targets for quite some time already and are facing further downside due to falling commodity prices.
Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer even pointed out that weak inflation shouldn’t be a reason for the U.S. central bank to hold off any tightening moves. “Given the apparent stability of inflation expectations, there is good reason to believe that inflation will move higher as the forces holding down inflation dissipate further,” he said. “With inflation low, we can probably remove accommodation at a gradual pace.”
“Because monetary policy influences real activity with a substantial lag, we should not wait until inflation is back to 2 percent to begin tightening,” Fisher continued. “I do not plan to upset your rational expectation that I cannot tell you what decision the Fed will reach by Sept. 17.”
ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio echoed these remarks in saying that the “link between inflation and real activity appears to have strengthened in the euro area recently.” He also expressed confidence that their policies can continue to reduce the output gap, pushing inflation much closer to target. Meanwhile, BOE Governor Carney also pointed out that the momentum in the U.K. economy and the sustained pickup in price levels could allow the British central bank to consider policy tightening early next year.
2. Academics argued that inflation is more complex
In contrast, experts were quick to point out that the relationship between inflation and economic activity is much more complicated than it looks. For Harvard University scholar Gita Gopinath, spurring inflation through currency depreciation isn’t that simple.
“The greater the fraction of a country’s imports invoiced in a foreign currency, the greater its inflation sensitivity to exchange rate fluctuations at both short and long horizons,” she wrote. “U.S. inflation is consequently more insulated from exchange rate shocks, while other countries are highly sensitive to it.”
Aside from that, Boston University’s Simon Gilchrist added that strict inflation targeting by central banks might actually do more harm than good. In his paper, he discussed why monetary policy should be geared towards responding to financial shocks and output stabilization as well.
3. Kanye is running for president in 2020
Oops, wrong weekend event. But yep, Mr. West just declared his plans to take over the West Wing in a few years, and I’m gonna let you finish but Kim Kardashian just might be the most controversial First Lady of all time. Of all time!
3. Not much focus on China
Surprisingly, there wasn’t much mention of China and the global stock market slump in the recent Jackson Hole Summit. Well, BOE Governor Carney did acknowledge the crash in Chinese equities only to say that this won’t derail the U.K. central bank from achieving its inflation targets. Other economic officials seemed to shrug off the trouble in China as well, possibly trying to avoid stirring up more panic and volatility in global financial markets.
In a nutshell, it looks like central bank officials are maintaining a “Keep calm and carry on” vibe for now while assuring that their current monetary policies are doing their magic. With that, the forex market could see a return in risk appetite, although it seems that the U.S. dollar could continue to stay afloat thanks to rate hike expectations for this year or the next.