Stock markets are down worldwide today after yesterday’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) June meeting and the release of its economic projections (PDF). The Federal Reserve projects unemployment in the U.S. to be high through the year 2013, when it should be 7 to 7.5 per cent, according to the Fed’s latest estimates (this is up from last month’s projections of 6.8 to 7.2 per cent). The wide range of projections even suggests the unemployment rate to be between 6.5 and 8.3 per cent (see image from the FOMC report below).
I think it’s unsettling that unemployment is likely to remain that high until at least seven years after the start of the recession! Investors will be thinking the same, as suggested by international stock markets today. It certainly didn’t help that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke didn’t hint at potential new steps to boost economic growth. Apparently, Mr Bernanke believes the current slowdown of economic growth to be temporary. Therefore, the central bank, which is ending its $600bn bond-buying program at this inauspicious time, will remain on hold for at least two more months before deciding about further interventions. Interestingly, the Dow Jones index temporarily jumped up yesterday right after a tweet by PIMCO’s Bill Gross saying that August would likely bring first hints at QE3. However, as soon as the FOMC published its downgraded economic outlook for the US, markets turned down again.
Today’s losses in Europe could also be due to profit taking after mostly good stock market performances on Tuesday. Charts below the fold.