Bernanke Era Begins

Just how different will today’s Fed meeting be compared with those of former FOMC Chairman Alan Greenspan? Will the Fed’s all important statement be a lot more clear and straightforward, or will it be only slightly tweaked from those used over the course of the last several years? These are the questions investors and economists are eagerly anticipating getting answers to as we await the outcome of Ben Bernanke’s first meeting as head of the FOMC.

I think the wording might be slightly different under Bernanke, but those looking for bold shifts in policy wordings might be disappointed. We will get a 25 bp hike today, but where do we go after that? Will 4.75% be the end, or are we going to 5.00% or 5.25%? I think the case can be made that 4.75% is enough. Surely anything above 5%, given the current economic climate, will spook many investors.

Most importantly, what does this mean for the stock market? The market has been acting very well lately, and in my mind that signals we are pricing in the end of the rate hike cycle. If that’s the case, those expecting a huge rally when the Fed does get around to stopping will likely be met with sellers looking to book the gains earned in recent months.