2019 College Fed Challenge, University of Pennsylvania | Summary and Q&A

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November 27, 2019
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Federal Reserve
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2019 College Fed Challenge, University of Pennsylvania

TL;DR

Fed Challenge team presents their recommendation to hold rates in the face of current macroeconomic conditions, citing a strong labor market, moderate GDP growth, and below-target inflation.

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Key Insights

  • 📼 The Fed's monetary policy has contributed to income and wealth inequality through the increase in asset values, disproportionately benefiting the top 10 percent.
  • 😘 Low inflation despite a strong labor market can be attributed to various factors, including measurement issues, anchor effects of the 2 percent target, and the changing relationship between unemployment and inflation.
  • 🫵 The 2 percent inflation target should be viewed as a flexible objective rather than an upper bound, with stability and credibility in inflation expectations being crucial.
  • 🥹 The team recommends holding rates and implementing a standing repo facility to ensure stability and transparency in the banking system.
  • 😘 Macroeconomic conditions are generally favorable, with positive GDP growth, low unemployment, and strong labor market, but there are risks from trade uncertainties and weakening manufacturing.
  • 🎯 Inflation remains below the target, but inflation expectations and wage growth have moderated, suggesting the need for clear guidance and further analysis.
  • 🤑 The team acknowledges the importance of monetary policy in managing overnight volatility and ensuring stability in money markets.

Transcript

Transcript of University of Pennsylvania's College Fed Challenge Finals Presentation November 27, 2019 RENAN: Hi, I'm Renan. CATHERINE: Hi I'm Catherine. JUSTIN: Justin. LISA: I'm Lisa. AMAN: I'm Aman. ANTULIO BOMFIM: Good morning and welcome. I am Antulio Bomfim, I am a senior advisor here at the board and at the division of monetary affairs. THOM... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How has the Fed's monetary policy affected income and wealth distribution in the US?

The Fed's policy decisions, such as low interest rates and asset purchases, have boosted asset values, benefiting the top 10 percent who own a large proportion of assets. However, the impact on income inequality is complex and depends on factors such as wage growth and investment patterns.

Q: Why is inflation low despite a strong labor market?

There are several reasons for this, including the influence of acyclical industries on inflation measurements, the anchoring effect of the 2 percent target on inflation expectations, the relationship between unemployment and inflation being less straightforward, and the prevalence of union contracts that lead to slower wage inflation.

Q: Should the 2 percent inflation target be seen as an upper bound?

The 2 percent target is not intended as an upper bound. A higher target could anchor expectations for higher prices, but the symmetric language of the target allows for flexibility in achieving both lower and higher inflation. Stability and credibility in inflation expectations are more important than the specific target number.

Q: How do the team members feel about current inflation expectations?

Inflation expectations have been declining and are at near-historic lows. Using outcome-based forward guidance and maintaining credibility in reaching the 2 percent target would be beneficial. The team members believe that inflation expectations can be influenced and guided in the desired direction.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The team recommends holding rates at 150 to 175 basis points and implementing a standing repo facility to ensure stability and transparency in the banking system.

  • Macroeconomic conditions are favorable, with business conditions doing well, positive GDP growth, low unemployment, and strong labor market.

  • Inflation remains below the 2 percent target, but inflation expectations are low, suggesting the need for clear guidance and alignment with internal forecasts.

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