Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has a few fences to mend.
That's because the normally chummy relationship the U.S. central bank has with Wall Street hit a bump last week when minutes from the Open Market Committee's most recent meeting left room for confusion about the Fed's path forward.
Where the market thought the FOMC was getting confident enough in the economy to move forward with a steady stream of small interest rate increases, the minutes indicated a jittery bunch of central bankers. They worried at the January meeting that it might be too soon to start raising rates, fretted over upsetting the market by removing the word "patient" from the post-meeting communique and generally conveyed an air of hesitation over how to unwind the Fed's mammoth balance sheet.
Consequently, Yellen's got some work to do in conveying certainty to the Street. She'll get her first chance Tuesday, which marks the start of two days when she'll address Congress in her semiannual briefing sometimes referred to as the Humphrey-Hawkins hearings.
The remarks will give her a chance to undo some of the damage from the release of the minutes and help give the market a better handle on the pace of rate increases. The Fed is widely expected this year to lift its target fund rates from near zero, but how it will do so remains a mystery. Initial reaction after the meeting had futures bets leaning toward a September hike or later, compared to previous expectations of a June move.
"A mixed and muddled message" was how Michael Hanson, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, described the January meeting deliberations.