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Letter from Washington

Political Insider

FOMC two-day meeting with a 2:30 PM Wednesday press conference.  I will send a transcript as soon as it becomes available.

“Fed Officials Wrestle With a ‘Dot Plot’ Dilemma. Officials are set to release rate projections on Wednesday, but they have caused confusion.”  This morning’s Wall Street Journal article leads with:

Federal Reserve officials aren’t quite sure what to do about their dots.

Every quarter, the central bank produces a chart of 19 officials’ individual projections for interest rates, with a dot representing each person’s expected value of the Fed’s benchmark rate in coming years. Most of them see this so-called dot plot as a valuable communications tool, but it has increasingly contributed to investor confusion.

Officials are set to release an updated dot plot on Wednesday at the end of their two-day meeting. Most appear likely to project either no rate moves or one increase this year, based on recent public statements and interviews.

That would mark a significant change from December, when officials raised rates and the dots showed most officials anticipated between one and three increases this year, with a median projection of two.

The dots have caused problems when the economy is at an inflection point, such as during the current slowdown, because they reflect a baseline outlook—the rate path, if the economy behaves according to each individual’s expectations. The dots don’t show how officials gauge risks to their forecasts.

Officials emphasize the projections don’t represent a rigid rate plan. But the December dot plot rattled many investors who worried the Fed was underestimating the headwinds to growth.

President Trump’s schedule (EDT):

11:30 AM:  Receives a briefing on the Economic Report of the President;

12:30 PM:  Lunch with Vice President Pence;

  1:45 PM:  Daily intelligence briefing; and

  5:45 PM:  Attends a Greek Independence Day Celebration.

TUESDAY:        Meets with Brazil’s President Bolsonaro.  The two will hold a joint press conference.

WEDNESDAY:  Tours the Army Tank Plant at Lima, Ohio;

THURSDAY:     Speaks to the Business Roundtable’s Meeting in D.C. 

Economic Report of the President to be released today, here.

FY20 Budget details to be released at 11:30 AM today.  The “Second Phase” of President Trump’s FY20 Budget, the Appendix, Analytical Perspectives, and Major Savings and Reforms, will be released here.

“Trade Fight With China Enters Overtime, With Tariffs a Costly Sticking Point.”  Yesterday’s New York Times article led with:

WASHINGTON — The United States and China are pushing for a summit meeting in late April to complete a trade deal, while negotiators are still grappling over its terms and how they should be enforced.

Although much remains unsettled, one thing is becoming clear: The Trump administration will continue to hold the threat of tariffs over Beijing to ensure that it lives up to whatever commitments it agrees to in the final deal. That approach is prompting concern among American businesses that the economic damage and uncertainty caused by President Trump’s trade war could persist even once negotiations are resolved.

On Friday, a report commissioned by the nation’s biggest business lobbying group showed that the Trump administration’s tariffs are actually damaging an industry the levies were intended to protect. The report, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Rhodium Group, a research firm, said that Mr. Trump’s tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods were eroding the competitiveness of the America information technology sector — including companies that manufacture computers, electronics and telecom equipment, as well as provide services like cloud computing, computer-aided design and customer relations.

The report estimated that the tariffs, if they remain in place, would reduce United States gross domestic product by at least $1 trillion within 10 years. The American G.D.P. was about $20.5 trillion in 2018.

Trade negotiations started with Japan and the EU.  This morning’s Politico Playbook reports:

In addition to the USMCA and China, Lighthizer is starting separate bilateral negotiations for free-trade agreements with Japan and the European Union, and is in a trilateral negotiation with those countries on WTO rules to tackle Chinese non-market practices.

“The Navy Routinely Buys Defective Ships, Raising Costs and Risks.”  This weekend’s CQ Roll Call article led with:

Political Insider

About Pete Davis

Pete Davis

Pete Davis advises Wall Street money managers on Washington, DC policy developments that affect the financial markets. Visit his website here daviscapitalinvestmentideas.yolasite.com.

Articles by Pete Davis

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