NEW YORK Fed officials are talking too much about monetary policy, causing confusion among investors and increased volatility in interest rates, stock prices, and the dollar's value, a former Federal Reserve governor said in an article published this week.
"To correct the financial market distortions, this open-mouth practice should be stopped," said Andrew Brimmet, who is now president of Brimmet & Co.
"Until recently, there was a long-standing tradition at the Fed under which officials voluntarily avoided comments which might be interpreted as forecasting future actions by the Board of Governors or the FOMC." Mr. Brimmer said in Standard & Poor's Corp.'s CreditWeek publication.
But that has changed, Mr. Brimmer said.
He pointed to a Jan. 19 statement by Jerry L. Jordan, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, who was then a voting member of the Fed's open market committee. In a press interview, Mr. Jordan called on the Fed to demonstrate its commitment to zero inflation.
"Investors read the call as an early warning of impending restraint," Mr. Brimmer said. "The Fed funds rate was unchanged, but the yield on 30 year U.S. government bonds rose by 5 basis points."
He also pointed to a Jan. 31 testimony to congress by Chairman Alan Greenspan, warning that the Fed may need to raise interest rates.
"The market impact was immediate. The funds rate rose 20 basis points, and the yield on long-term U.S. government bonds climbed by 23 basis points."
Mr. Brimmer also said remarks by Fed vice chairman Alan S. Blinder in a recent television interview were taken as confirmation that the Fed funds rate would be raised.
He said this caused the 30year bond rate to stay above 8%, despite news on labor costs that normally would have produced a decrease in the rate.
The Fed has been under pressure from Congress to be more open in its deliberation, in hopes of reducing confusion and speculation that sometimes rolls the marketplace.
Chairman Henry B, Gonzalez of the House Banking Committee has pressed the hoard to provide minutes of its meetings.
A spokeswoman for the banking committee declined to comment on Mr. Brimmer's article.