Strategic Briefing | 4.26.2011 | The Fed’s First Press Conference

Fed Sweating the Details of First News Conference
The Wall Street Journal | Apr 26
The Federal Reserve is doing some careful stage planning for its first-ever public news conference Wednesday afternoon following a two-day policy meeting. Details that would be extremely mundane for most other institutions—such as who gets in, how Chairman Ben Bernanke should kick things off, and how questions will be asked—have potentially market-moving importance in this instance. Analysts and traders on Wall Street have been scrambling to find out what to expect. “People are trying to get their arms around the whole thing,” said David Greenlaw, chief U.S. economist with Morgan Stanley. He has quizzed colleagues who follow the European Central Bank, which, like other central banks, has held news conferences for years, to understand how it might unfold.

Bernanke To Explain Fed’s Action At News Conference
David Wessel, Wall Street Journal, via NPR | Apr 25
…it’s a big deal because Fed chairmen generally haven’t done them. They usually take questions in public only at congressional hearings, which usually means they don’t end up talking very much about the substance of monetary policy. Mr. Bernanke has advocated for a long time doing this stuff in public. He believes in what he calls transparency. But I think there are two other things going on. One is the Fed knows that people don’t trust them. It’s the residue of the financial crisis. And he’s looking to use this as an opportunity to build confidence in the Fed. And secondly, there’s a big committee at the Fed, and they tend to all talk at the same time and confuse people. By being the first one out to talk to people after the Fed holds its policy meeting, he will set the tone and he will send a clear message, he hopes, that won’t be so polluted by every – all the disagreements being aired in public.
Dollar falls to new low as markets await Fed’s next move
The Guardian | Apr 26
City experts believe that this will be a defining week for the dollar. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, will for the first time hold a press conference on Wednesday evening immediately after the Federal open market committee has voted. Traders expect no change to the Fed’s current loose monetary position. “The market will, as usual, be hanging off every word from Bernanke,” said Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank. “There is a small risk that the Fed will toughen its stance on inflation, but in the absence of this, loose monetary policy in the US is likely to continue to weigh on the dollar at least for the remainder of the year.”
What Bernanke May Say at Fed Conference: Fixed Income Pro
CNBC | Apr 25
Don’t get too excited over Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s press conference on Wednesday, said David Zervos, head of global fixed income strategy at Jefferies. “I imagine we’ll get the typical clarity that we get from reading the minutes—I don’t think we’re going to get a whole lot of new information,” Zervos told CNBC. “The fact that we get some new bombshell information seems highly unlikely to me… Where you get answers from Bernanke is maybe how transitory are these commodity price increases, what are they thinking about in terms of the dollar, what are they thinking in terms of the immediate GDP consequences of what happened in Japan.”
Ben Bernanke Faces The Press Wednesday
Neon Tommy | Apr 26
… there has been pressure on the Federal Reserve to be more open. “The notion of being upfront about their actions is probably a step in the right direction,” said Ross Starr, professor of economics at UC San Diego. On the flip side, said UCLA economist Jerry Nickelsburg, press conferences could put Bernanke in a tough political situation. “On the one hand it allows Ben Bernanke to put monetary policy into the public arena for discussion and debate,” he said. “On the other hand, it can serve as a platform from which Chairman Bernanke can counter the influence of the other governors. This could make the discussions at the FOMC less incisive.”
Fed watch: Can you hear me now?
US Economic Weekly (Bank of America) | Apr 21
April’s FOMC meeting is unlikely to be notable on the policy front: the Fed is widely expected to maintain its current policy stance. But it will mark the beginning of a significant innovation to Fed communication strategy: a post-FOMC press conference. This will give Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke an opportunity to grab the media spotlight away from the ever-present but unrepresentative hawks, and help re-align market expectations to what we expect to be a continued long hold for US monetary policy well into next year.