Market Insider

Markets will pay close attention to Powell's comments on regulation and inflation

Key Points
  • Markets will focus Tuesday on the testimony from Jerome Powell, with a special focus on his comments on inflation and regulation.
  • Powell, President Trump's pick for Fed chair, is a Fed governor and is likely to stick to the Fed's party line on the economy.
  • The tax bill will also be a focus as the Senate bill moves closer to a vote.
President Donald Trump, left, and Jerome Powell, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve and Trump's nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve, walk to a nomination announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Fed Governor Jerome Powell is no stranger in the financial markets, but traders will still give special weight to his views on inflation, regulation — and the tax bill.

Powell is set to appear at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday before the Senate banking panel for his confirmation hearing for Fed chair. President Donald Trump picked Powell to replace Fed Chair Janet Yellen when her term ends in February.

In prepared remarks ahead of his testimony, Powell said he would "respond decisively" to any new economic crisis and said the Fed must retail the flexibility to adjust policies in response to economic developments. He also said he would look for ways to ease regulatory burdens on the banking system and pledged to defend the Fed's independence while working to make it more accountable.

Powell is expected to stick to the Fed's party line on the economy during his testimony.

"The party line is the economy is doing pretty well, the labor market is doing great, and we don't understand inflation. I expect that's what he'll say on monetary policy," said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies. "Where he could stir some fireworks would be on the regulatory side."

Powell isn't an economist, and he would be the first Fed chair since Paul Volcker, who was appointed in 1979, not to be a PhD economist. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, could have the most heated exchanges on the regulatory matters, McCarthy said.

Traders will be hinging on Powell's comments on inflation after dovish remarks from Yellen, who has said the Fed is not sure why inflation is low. The Fed forecasts three interest rate hikes for next year after one in December, but the lack of inflation has made the market skeptical that the Fed can deliver on all of those rate hikes.

There's also interest in whether Powell will describe how stimulative the tax proposals might be and what he thinks of the deficit spending resulting from Congressional tax plans.

Also on the tax front Tuesday, the Senate is moving closer to a vote later this week, and it's still unclear whether it will have the votes to pass.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, is slated to speak at a Fed conference Tuesday afternoon on the evolving structure of the Treasury market.

New York Fed President William Dudley is set to speak at the conference at 9:15 a.m.

Advanced economic indicators are expected at 8:30 a.m.; S&P/Case-Shiller and FHFA home price data at 9 a.m.; and consumer confidence data at 10 a.m.