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How Power Lunch does 'Fed day'

Janet Yellen
Carlos Barria | Reuters
Janet Yellen

Every time the Federal Reserve Open Market concludes a meeting and makes its statement on interest rates, we call it "Fed Day." It's an especially important time for us on Power Lunch because our program airs during the hours that the decision is announced and the Fed chair holds one of the corresponding four annual news conferences.

Because the Fed now releases its decision at exactly 2pm Eastern Time, we go into all-Fed countdown/preview mode on the air in the 1:30 half hour. We also have to make sure we're not in a commercial break when the news hits, so we never take any chances by never taking a break past 1:55. And we stay on until well after the decision and the market reaction shakes out.

Our Fed reporter Steve Liesman has a slightly different game plan. He makes his final pre-decision appearance at 1pm, and then goes into the "lock down," where he is literally forbidden to report anything until the decision is released to the public when the clock strikes 2:00 precisely. None of that timing can be fudged and none of it is a joke. After Steve's initial report, it's up to us to make sure we go to the market and market reporter where the reactions are most pronounced.

A little less precise is the exact start time and length of Chair Janet Yellen's news conference. It usually begins in the 2:30 half hour, but don't confuse that more casual timing with irrelevance. Yellen's comments at these news conferences have often moved the markets than the Fed decision announcement.

TV producers and promo writers can slap a "must see TV" tag on anything nowadays, but no one has to do that for something so obvious as a Fed decision and the corresponding hour or so that investors really need to stay tuned.

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