Weather and the economy: The Federal Reserve is as clueless as the rest of us. The first thing I did when the FOMC minutes came out was search for the word "weather." Good luck with that! There are exactly two references. Here they are:
- "Total nonfarm payroll employment expanded by less in December than in the previous two months, perhaps partly because of unusually bad weather."
- "A number of participants indicated that the December payrolls figure may have been an anomaly, perhaps importantly reflecting bad weather, and it was noted that the initial readings on payrolls in recent years had subsequently tended to be revised up."
In other words, the Fed isn't worried about the weather ... at least not yet! Adrian Miller at GMP Securities summed it up: "... despite acknowledging weather-related disappointing data of late, the general consensus is 2014 should show growth and labor market improvement."
This meeting was held Jan. 28 and 29, so it was before January economic data was out but well after the lousy December and January weather.
Emerging market problems: Don't blame us. The Fed patted itself on the back over its decision to begin tapering, saying that it "seemed to increase investors' confidence in the economic outlook."
But the Fed implied that emerging markets were responsible for their own problems: "... those effects were reversed late in the period when investors appeared to pull back from riskier assets in reaction to rising concern about developments in some emerging market economies and their possible implications for global economic growth."
The problems in emerging markets are not only not the Fed's fault but not even that serious. "The effects of recent financial market volatility had not been large enough to have a material effect on the overall outlook for those economies and, similarly, that the spillover effects on the United States of developments to date were likely to be modest," the minutes said.
Gee, trying telling that to Turkey. Or Brazil. Or India, which I just returned from, where GDP growth could be as low as 4 percent this year, down from 7 percent a few years ago.