Over the years many have accused central banking of being the world’s latest (and most profitable) religion, with central bankers the only modern day priests left that still matter (to the tune of $75 trillion, the market cap of all stocks in the world).
Today, in a blog post from Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari explaining why he dissented from the latest Fed rate hike decision, he admits as much when he says “for me, deciding whether to raise rates or hold steady came down to a tension between faith and data. On one hand, intuitively, I am inclined to believe in the logic of the Phillips curve: A tight labor market should lead to competition for workers, which should lead to higher wages. Eventually, firms will have to pass some of those costs on to their customers, which should lead to higher inflation. That makes intuitive sense. That’s the faith part.“
In a surprisingly honest assessment, he then says that “unfortunately, the data aren’t supporting this story, with the FOMC coming up short on its inflation target for many years in a row, and now with core inflation actually falling even as the labor market is tightening. If we base our outlook for inflation on these actual data, we shouldn’t have raised rates this week. Instead, we should have waited to see if the recent drop in inflation is transitory to ensure that we are fulfilling our inflation mandate.”
Which inductively suggests that the rest of the FOMC is still driven by, well, faith alone. Unfortunately, this time the faith has consequences, and as Citi’s Matt King explained earlier, the Fed’s decision to not only hike rates but also to begin a $450 billion annual reduction in its balance sheet, will have “significant adjustment in valuations.”
Which is perhaps ironic, because while Kashkari’s opinion is quite objective on the topic of America’s economic realities, he continues to be disappointing blind about the Fed’s true purpose, namely to prop up asset prices, to wit:
“while some asset prices appear elevated, I don’t see a correction as being likely to trigger financial instability. Investors would face losses from a stock market correction, but it’s not the Fed’s job to protect investors from losses. Our jobs are to achieve our dual mandate and to promote financial stability.”
Which is funny, because while the priests over at the Fed continue to live in their ivory towers, everyone figured out what was going on, and as Citi said earlier this week,”the principal transmission channel to the real economy has been lifting asset prices.“
Kashkari’s full Kashsplainer can be found here.