Friday, April 4, 2014

Which Reporters Is Fed Chair Janet Yellen Afraid Of?

Last November, I reported that when Janet Yellen felt under pressure from questions during congressional testimony she would start her answers with the word, so. When she was asked relatively non-hostile questions, mostly from Democrats, she did not start her answers with the word so. It was really quite obvious. (SEE: How to Tell When Janet Yellen is Under Pressure)

Using this insight, conducted an analysis of the recent press conference (March 19) held by Yellen. The results are quite informative.

Yellen answered 15 questions from reporters. With 7 of those questions she started the answer with the word so, with the other 8 she did not. Indeed, the most challenging questions did come from the reporters where she replied starting with the word so.

Below is the list
of reporters where Yellen answered a question without starting with the word so:

Marty Crustinger, Associated Press

John Hilsenrath,The Wall Street Journal

Steve Liesman, CNBC

Jim Puzzanghera, The Los Angeles Times

Gregg Robb, Market Watch

Rebecca Jarvis, ABC

Kate Davidson, Politico

Victoria McGrane, Dow Jones

With the following reporters, Yellen started her answer with the word so:

Ylan Mui, The Washington Post

Robin Hading, The Financial Times

Ann Saphir, Reuters

Binyamin, The New York Times

Jeff Kearns, Bloomberg News

Wyatt Andrews, CBS

Peter Barnes, FOX Business News

What kind of questions were asked by these reporters, where Yellen started her answers with so?

Andrews asked why the recovery was so slow.

Harding asked how the Fed woud trade off the risk of higher inflation versus faster progress on unemployment.

Saphir, first asked a brief technical question, where Yellen did not start with so, But then Saphir followed up by asking about the completion of the bond buying program and when would the Fed start pushing interest rates higher.

Kearns asked Yellen what indicators she liked to watch. She said she watched U-6, U-3, discouraged and marginally attached workers, labor force participation and quits.

Most fascinating, Yellen started with a very curt, "so," when Barnes asked if the Russians had pulled Treasury securities from the Federal Reserve in light of the Ukraine crisis. Yellen answered by saying that movements in custodial accounts at the New York Fed are something that she couldn't comment about.


  1. I noticed Yellen's "So" response several meetings with press earlier. However, I thought the "So" was in response to the question/subject, not the questioner.

    BTW, I've noticed the "So" syndrome rather common on guests on CNBC, so it seems to have filtered into the culture.

  2. you left out Gold.

    Renewed estimates of Chinese gold demand

    I started following China's gold strategy over two years ago and was more or less on my own, having been tipped off by a contact that the Chinese government had already accumulated large amounts of gold before actively promoting gold ownership for private individuals. I took the view that the Chinese government acted for good reasons and that it is a mistake to ignore their actions, particularly when gold is involved.

    Since then, Koos Jansen of has taken a specialised interest in the SGE and Hong Kong's trade statistics, and his dedication to the issue has helped spread interest and knowledge in the subject. He has been particularly successful in broadcasting market statistics published in Chinese to a western audience, overcoming the lack of information available in English.

    I believe that China is well on the way to having gained control of the international gold market, thanks to western central banks suppression of the gold price, which accelerated last year. The basic reasons behind China's policy are entirely logical:

    • China knew at the outset that gold is the west's weak spot, with actual monetary reserves massively overstated. For all I know their intelligence services may have had an accurate assessment of how much gold there is left in western vaults, and if they had not, their allies, the Russians, probably did. Representatives of the People's Bank of China will have attended meetings at the Bank for International Settlements where these issues are presumably openly discussed by central bankers.

    • China has significant currency surpluses under US control. By controlling the gold market China can flip value from US Treasuries into gold as and when it wishes. This gives China ultimate financial leverage over the west if required.

    • By encouraging its population to invest in gold China reduces the need to acquire dollars to control the renminbi/dollar rate. Put another way, gold purchases by the public have helped absorb her trade surplus. Furthermore gold ownership insulates her middle classes from external currency instability which has become an increasing concern since the Lehman crisis.

  3. It could also be that she does the "so" thing when she is preparing to lie.