The Federal Reserve stirred up markets last week, but bitcoin was less reactive than plain old stocks.
After the smattering of U.S. central bankers who set the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate benchmark met last week, the smattering issued a press release that outlines their new monetary policy (raising rates by 75 basis points). Then Powell, who leads the smattering, speaks at a press conference, giving introductory remarks before he answers questions from financial journalists.
In our modern era of information overload, the market tends to react to the press release and then to the introductory statement and then to the answers to the financial journalists’ questions.
So imagine my annoyance during last Wednesday’s November edition of “Fed Policy Makers Change Rates and Then Powell Talks About It.”
Just look at the S&P 500 (which tracks the performance of most of the U.S. stock market) and how it behaved during the afternoon’s proceedings: It went up with the press release, down with the introductory statement and then down some more amid the questions from the press.
Again: Imagine my annoyance. (Just picture a guy shaking his fist at a computer screen because of visceral market reactions due to another guy saying some stuff.)
This is my take as to why this happened. The market was looking for any signal of the “slowdown” of interest rate hikes Powell hinted at a few rate hikes ago, and it found that in the press release. But when Powell started talking, markets reinterpreted what they’d just heard, especially because of this comment:
He was then later asked about “lag effects” (aka the time between the Fed’s rate increases and its actual economic impact) and Powell dropped the bombshell about it being premature to talk about a rate-hike pause. The S&P 500 puked.
What’s more, the S&P 500 got whipped around even more than bitcoin (BTC) – you know, the famously volatile Magic Internet Money. The Fed press release came out at 2 p.m. ET. The S&P 500’s gain peaked at 0.7% about a half hour later, but it ended the day down 2.3%. Meanwhile, bitcoin peaked at a post-Fed press release gain of 1.3% and ended with a 1.5% loss.