A staff report on how the Federal Reserve came up with its easy-money policy path suggests that its sudden switch to tightening early this year may have come from low economic growth and other economic reasons, rather than as a response to misleading projections by the Fed’s own staff.
Using forecasts from the dot-com bust in 2000, which were dramatically wrong, Fed officials had pegged the economy to grow around 2 percent for the next three years. Only five other times since the Great Depression, including in 2001, have the Fed’s plan come to pass.
In late 2011, the Fed’s chief economist, John Williams, said that the economy’s growth would reach 2.7 percent in 2013, including expectations of 2.9 percent growth from the first quarter of 2012 through the first quarter of 2014.
That forecast didn’t happen. There was only 1.7 percent growth, with an economic fallout to “Asian contagion,” a Japan-style collapse in the labor markets and a banking crisis, beginning in October 2012.
Bank Of America Merrill Lynch Global Research estimates that the U.S. economy hasn’t fully recovered the money saved by investors from the drawdown of long-term interest rates in 2008. So the “slack” in the recovery’s growth since then, Merrill notes, is “not just a random blip in policy.” That forecast looks suspiciously like a prediction that won’t come true.
If investors had been smarter, they may have been better advised to nudge their money out of the stock market in the months leading up to 2015. That might have helped counter the worldwide recession in 2013.