October FOMC Minutes Released; Senate Banking Committee Votes to Approve Yellen Nomination

Federal Reserve news drives markets, and this week was no exception. On Wednesday the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the minutes of its October 29th-30th economic discussion, and the following day President Obama’s nominee for Fed Chairman, Janet Yellen, received approval from the Senate Banking Committee to replace departing chairman Ben Bernanke. The October FOMC minutes were relatively upbeat. Stocks dipped 0.40% and the US Treasury 10-year note yield rose nine basis points on the greater likelihood that the Fed would reduce its monthly bond-buying program (Quantitative Easing) in the coming months. 80% of economists surveyed now expect this action to be taken in March 2014. The market-moving conversation re-emphasized the Fed’s stance of "lower-for-longer," with Bernanke mentioning the Fed would keep the Fed Funds Target rate, the interest rate central to consumer and institutional borrowing, low until the unemployment rate drops below 6.5% and possibly long thereafter. An "inflation floor" was also proposed, although its adoption is in question, where the Fed would provide guidance stating it would not raise the Fed Funds Target rate as long as core inflation remained below 1.5%. Yellen’s confirmation and the recent FOMC minutes suggest a very active Fed going forward. SNW Asset Management portfolios continue to be positioned to take advantage of a "lower-for-longer" interest rate paradigm and the eventual removal of extraordinary monetary accommodation through portfolio positioning away from riskier credits in the short term.