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Posts tagged with: "DFEDTAR"

View this series on FRED

Unexpected changes to the benchmark U.S. interest rate

Discretion is the better part of valor

Quoting from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System website: “The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the monetary policymaking body of the Federal Reserve System… The FOMC schedules eight meetings per year, one about every six weeks or so. The Committee may also hold unscheduled meetings as necessary to review economic and financial developments.”

One of those unscheduled meetings took place on Sunday, March 15. At that time, the FOMC announced a reduction in the benchmark U.S. interest rate target range by a full percentage point. This decision was made ahead of the regularly scheduled March 17-18 meeting. How often does the FOMC do this? That is, how often does it change its monetary policy target without waiting for a regularly scheduled meeting? FRED can help us answer that question.

The purple bars in the FRED graph above show the change in the federal funds target rate (which is a series that was discontinued after December 16, 2008, and the green bars show the change in the federal funds target range (upper and lower limits). The spacing between the bars shows the pace of interest rate adjustments. Because the data are at a daily frequency (including Sundays), we can see details more easily if we zoom in…

In the graph above, we’ve zoomed in to the months between June 2004 and August 2006, showing 17 increases in the target rate, matched to the regular FOMC meetings. All the changes in the target rate were of the same size: 0.25% (or 25 basis points).

Now, look at the months between August 2007 and July 2009. You can see 10 decreases in the target rate: 8 were announced at the regular FOMC meetings and 2 were in between meetings (January 22 and October 8, 2008). The changes in the target rate were of different sizes, ranging from 0.25% to 0.75% (or 25 to 75 basis points). Note that the December 16, 2008, change in the target rate was accompanied by the implementation of the target range, with upper and lower limits.

Over the past 20 years, the FOMC has held 184 meetings, 30 of which were unscheduled. During the same period, the FOMC changed its monetary policy target 54 times, 7 of which occurred after unscheduled meetings, which amounts to 13% of all policy target changes. You can also keep track of this schedule yourself: The Federal Reserve Board publishes the list of meetings and the list of open market operations that have changed the monetary policy rate

How these graphs were created: Search for and select “federal funds target rate (DISCONTINUED)” (series ID DFEDTAR). From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Add Line” to search for and select “federal funds target range upper limit” (series ID DFEDTARU). Repeat for “federal funds target range lower limit” (series ID DFEDTARL). For all lines, change the units to “Change, Percent.” For the second and third graphs, adjust the time periods.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

View on FRED, series used in this post: DFEDTAR, DFEDTARL, DFEDTARU

Federal funds rate: target vs. reality

The traditional policy tool of the Fed is to target the federal funds rate. Note the term target. Indeed, the Fed does not set this interest rate; rather, it sets the target and then conducts open market operations so that the overnight interest rate on funds deposited by banks at the Fed reaches that target. Obviously, reaching the target is sometimes harder to do, especially in times when there’s a lot of uncertainty in the markets. The graph above compares the target (or target band more recently) with the effective federal funds rate. While the two coincide quite well over most of the 10-year period, there are important deviations that correspond to various financial market events. Nevertheless, these deviations are short-lived, which shows that the open market operations do have the desired effect.

How this graph was created: Search for “federal funds rate” and these four series should be among the top choices. Select the daily rates and use the “Add to graph” button to add them to the graph.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: DFEDTAR, DFEDTARL, DFEDTARU, DFF

The many faces of the federal funds rate

It’s no surprise FRED has federal funds rate data. But these data aren’t as simple as you may think. They have changed form over time as the Federal Open Market Committee has changed the way it sets the funds rate: From 1982 through 2008, the target rate is a discrete number. For example, it is 9.5% on Oct. 1, 1982, 3% on Oct. 1, 1992, and 1.75% on Oct. 1, 2002. At the end of 2008 (i.e., since the financial crisis), the FOMC began setting a target range of 0.00 to 0.25%. And, to further complicate matters, the data prior to 1994 come from the working paper “A New Federal Funds Rate Target Series: September 27, 1982 – December 31, 1993,” making it an altogether different series.

The discrete-target funds rate for 1982-2008 is DFEDTAR in FRED. The target-range funds rate since then has a lower and upper bound—DFEDTARL and DFEDTARU, respectively.

Of course, FRED will continue to accommodate changes to the funds rate. As the U.S. economy overall and employment specifically have recovered, the FOMC has signaled a need to respond by changing the rate. And financial observers around the globe are anxious about how the FOMC will respond. If at some point in the future the FOMC moves from a target range to a discrete target, FRED will also need to respond: In this case, the FRED team plans to change the lower-bound and upper-bound series to a commensurate data point to solve this issue. This method will ensure that the history of the range remains intact, while allowing FRED users to present the data in the simplest way possible. We will not combine the series, create a new series, or update the DFEDTAR series.

How to make this graph: The FRED Team prefers to present these data by creating one graph with the three aforementioned series. First search for and add DFEDTAR to a graph. Next use the “Add Data Series” menu below the graph to search for DFEDTARL and DFEDTARU in the field that asks you to “Type keywords to search for data.” Select these series and add them to the graph with the “Add Series” button.

Suggested by Travis May.

View on FRED, series used in this post: DFEDTAR, DFEDTARL, DFEDTARU


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