So, Is The Fed Suddenly Back In Play?

In a log entry this week I predicted that the jobs number would be good this morning “but not a repeat of last month’s 300+k.” Boy was I wrong! The January number was +304k!

Although, actually, as it turned out, last month’s 300+k wasn’t 300+k. In fact, upon further inspection by the BLS (the compiler of these numbers), last month came in at a revised 222k. But, still, that’s good! And 304k this month, amid the government shutdown, was remarkable.

Although the reference week happened to be the one when the affected government employees actually received their last paycheck. So, as it turns out, as the February reference week looks like it’ll occur when these folks are back to work (hopefully not just temporarily), the record-long government shutdown will not show up as an asterisked blip on our U.S. jobs numbers chart.

I’m already seeing calls for yet another Fed about face given the strength in the U.S. labor market. I.e., “a Fed hike will be right back on the table for the 1st half of this year.” I personally doubt it, given that the Fed is staffed by human beings who desire not to appear to be anything less than thoughtful, patient and measured in their approach to monetary policy. Until we see inflation rebrewing in notable fashion I think the Fed will continue to fly with the doves. 

Bottom line: Q4’s drubbing of the equity market — along with the marked slowing of the global economy the past few months — got the attention of monetary policy makers and politicians (look for a trade deal with China relatively soon) alike, big time!


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