Blog   Tagged ‘quantitative easing’

Janet Yellen: The Next Chairperson of the Federal Reserve

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Janet who? Janet Yellen, the seemingly-unknown current vice-chairperson of the Federal Reserve(the Fed), was nominated by the President to succeed Ben Bernanke after several White House favorites were first considered. Bernanke, the current chairman of the Fed, is vacating the position he has held since 2006 at the end of January 2014.

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Yellen now awaits the Senate confirmation process, which she should easily glide through as the Republicans appeared to support her as a candidate while the President sought alternative contenders earlier in the process. She appears to have a very good track record on judging appropriate policy. Whether a dove (low rates and inflation) or a hawk (inflation a threat), what’s important is supporting the appropriate policy at the appropriate time…which she has done. She is battled-tested, having worked in key policy roles through both the Asian financial crisis in 1997and the recent global financial crisis.  She has spent most of the past two decades as a leading voice within the Fed, initially as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, then as president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Board, and over the past four years as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.

We think Yellen, like Bernanke, may view the risk of the economy becoming stuck in a low-to-moderate growth path great enough to provide ongoing risk insurance, such as delaying the tapering of quantitative easing or even, if necessary, providing additional stimulus.

Yellen is characterized by those who know her as a brilliant thinker who focuses on the human side of economics.  As vice chair of the Fed, she was credited with forming the Fed’s communication policy including the chairman’s quarterly press conference. This press conference – and communication in general – may become more critical as we transition from a period of large-scale asset purchases to one of strong “forward guidance” from the Fed. Yellen has also been a proponent of maintaining the Fed’s zero interest rate policy and continuing the Fed’s asset purchase program.

If confirmed, she will be the first women to lead the Fed.  We think she is extremely qualified and will do an exceptional job.  We don’t expect much change with respect to the current Fed policy, and neither does the market. Upon her nomination in early October, the market let out a big yawn; markets didn’t move much then and haven’t since.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.

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Easy Monetary Policy – “Morphine” for the Economy

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Quantitative easing. Low interest rate environment. Easy money. Kick the can down the road. We have all heard those phrases in recent years as the government continues its grand economic experiment in an effort to stimulate the economy.

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While the intention was to stimulate, I would argue that this continued easing has served as more of an “economic morphine” used to dull the pain of a slow-growth economic recovery desperately in need of surgery to repair years of unwise spending and unprecedented debt levels. This morphine has falsely propped up equity markets, pushed more risk into the system and created a lending environment where banks are throwing caution to the wind to create business. Though for many it feels like things are going well. That’s the morphine at work.

I recently talked with Reuters on the surge in commercial and industrial lending and the potential economic fallout. In the article, I emphasized the risks that some banks are taking as liquidity grows and the pressure and competition to make loans intensifies. With interest rates held historically low and liquidity high, many banks are willing to make riskier loans with little-to-no collateral, lax or reduced terms and collateral packages.

All this lending hasn’t led to economic expansion, but rather refinancing. The credit is simply moving from bank to bank. For those not refinancing existing debt, many are using these loans to replace equipment with near zero cost money.

At UMB, we continue to lend and believe in the strength of the private sector and the good of capitalism. We will continue to be prudent in our lending practices and maintain the necessary terms and standards for responsible lending. As a nation, we can no longer accept the morphine and avoid the reality of our economic situation. The time has come for surgery. This surely will be a painful process as rates normalize and necessary spending cuts are made. However, this is what is needed to ensure the long-term health of our economy and country.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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The Federal Reserve: How the play ends

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The unprecedented expansion of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) balance sheet that has occurred via quantitative easing (QE) over the last few years has created anxiety over the challenges associated with normalizing the Fed’s investment holdings. Forecasts about how the Fed will shrink its balance sheet by “managing down” its portfolio, a process loosely referred to as the Fed Exit Plan, have ranged from moderate concern to outright panic.

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Recently, the Federal Reserve provided an ambiguous update on its QE3 program, with Chairman Ben Bernanke supporting ongoing stimulus efforts during his testimony at a Congressional hearing. That was followed later the same day with the Fed’s April meeting minutes showing some officials would like to begin slowing the program as early as next month.

Regardless of exact timing, if the Fed successfully orchestrates a relatively smooth transition out of QE and into a tightening phase, we believe:

  • The next two to three years of Gross Domestic Product GDP growth will be 2.0-2.5 percent and that interest rates will move to 2.5 percent in 2013 and 3.5 percent in 2014.
  • The Fed Exit period will be marked by bouts of short-term volatility, but over the longer cycle should not result in dramatic, uncontrolled spikes in interest rates.
  • This environment should be supportive of positive equity returns and will be punitive for fixed-income assets, especially longer-duration government bonds.

Click here to read my full perspective on the Fed Exit Plan.

 

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UMB Private Wealth Management is a division within UMB Bank, n.a. that manages active portfolios for employee benefit plans, endowments and foundations, fiduciary accounts and individuals.  UMB Financial Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of UMB Bank, n.a. UMB Bank, n.a., is an affiliate within the UMB Financial Corporation.

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Kelley is managing director of fixed income at UMB and is responsible for overseeing the product development and management of the fixed income holdings for the Wealth Management division. Mr. Kelley earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Baker University in Kansas City.

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