Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wasting Away Reading FOMC Meeting Minutes

Reading Fed minutes with intensity is way overdone, since any action the Fed is going to take with regard to easing or tightening of the money supply is not going to have a serious impact on the overall economy for generally three months or more after the change in policy starts.

The Fed has been tight with money, for example, since March and we are only now starting to see the impact in the markets. So if you only checked money supply once a month, you would still have plenty of time to get out of the way of the train wreck that is starting to happen. Yet, if you only read Fed minutes, you wouldn't even know that tightening was going on.

I still regularly see Fed watchers who talk about the Fed's "quantitative easing," when the Fed hasn't added 10 cents to the money supply since February, some quantitative easing.

Nevertheless, the tea leaf readers will be out next week as the FOMC minutes are released. And, you might get a knee jerk reaction to what is in the minutes. The reaction may last anywhere from an hour to 24 but not much more. A signal of a change in interest rate policy would get you a bit more of a market reaction.

But, in general, the interpretation of the minutes is like a damn Sunday NFL pre-game show. You have Howie, Terry and Jimmy talking nonsense to fill the time until the game actually begins.

In other words, there may be nothing else to do at the time, so lets see what they have to say--but don't take it to serious

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