Losses Mount as Fed Struggles to Maintain Price Stability

The Federal Reserve’s ability to maintain stable prices depends on the public’s trust in its ability to deliver.[0] However, after more than a year of interest rate hikes and attempts to cool the economy, prices are still rising well above the Fed’s 2% goal and the public is becoming increasingly weary.[0] This is evidenced by the sharp decline in response rate to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) – now just under 31%. The response rate to the Employment Cost Index, Current Employment Statistics survey, and other important measures of economic activity have all seen significant drops since the pandemic.

The fluctuations of the market have shown minimal correlation with the statements made by the Federal Reserve.[0] This has been highlighted by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s public doubts in the central bank’s ability to control inflation.[1] The January Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report, due to be published on Friday, is expected to show an acceleration in prices, which could increase the likelihood of a larger rate hike of a half percentage point in March.[1]

Fed officials are highly aware of the threat of prolonged inflationary pressures and warned of it at their last policy meeting. This issue has been further highlighted by the real estate slump, which has caused Wells Fargo to let go of more than 500 mortgage bankers this week. Domino’s stock also dipped nearly 12% on Thursday after the pizza maker admitted to having some delivery issues.[2]

Fidelity Investments new data showed that workplace retirement plans, which in total represent $2.8 trillion, have been hit hard.[2] Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives, said that the decline in responses made the survey “basura”.[3]

The losses were felt by Warren Buffett too, as Berkshire Hathaway reported a $22.8 billion loss in 2022, with around $53.6 billion in unrealized losses on its investments.[4] However, Buffett pointed to the company’s operating earnings in his annual letter to investors, reaching a “record” of $30.8 billion, topping the $27.5 billion in the prior year.[3]

0. “Morning context: Why today’s report on inflation could make or break the US economy” WRAL TechWire, 24 Feb. 2023, https://wraltechwire.com/2023/02/24/morning-context-why-todays-report-on-inflation-could-make-or-break-the-us-economy

1. “Why today’s inflation report is so important” WICZ, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.wicz.com/story/48444249/why-todays-inflation-report-is-so-important

2. “Why today’s inflation report is so important” KRDO, 24 Feb. 2023, https://krdo.com/news/2023/02/24/why-todays-inflation-report-is-so-important/

3. “Why the Fed is increasingly flying blind on the economy” CNN, 27 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/27/investing/premarket-stocks-trading/index.html

4. “Why the Fed is increasingly flying blind on the economy” WICZ, 27 Feb. 2023, https://www.wicz.com/story/48456207/why-the-fed-is-increasingly-flying-blind-on-the-economy