Bond Market Observations: Beam Them Up, Scotty

Part of the attraction of the Star Trek franchise is glimpsing potential technologies two and a half centuries from now. Early adopters of the series had a three-decade lead on Amazon’s Alexa on how to talk to a computer. Among the wonders of the imagined future is the transporter, offering a decided commuting improvement from Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Alas, the transporter proves as unreliable as the MBTA in practice. A repeated plot device revolves around a transporter mishap. Among those, a protagonist (not the redshirted ones who return as rice pudding) is transported back duplicated with split and amplified personalities. Thereafter, the crew of the USS Enterprise copes with the twins of an extremely virtuous and completely evil Kirk or an even-more logical and weepily emotional Spock.

This feels familiar right now. At some point in the past two years, Scotty beamed US economic policy making from an alien planet to Washington, DC, but the transporter duplicated, split and amplified an aspect of its familiar personality. This time, the duplication rotated around the axis of predictability.

The skittish and risk-averse policy design settled at 20th and C Streets, NW. There, at the Federal Reserve building, officials shun surprise, abhor headlines, and suck drama from every speech opportunity and data release. They firm at even-numbered meetings, signal action at odd-numbered ones, and will keep at this preset pace until the firming cycle is over. Federal Reserve (Fed) officials apparently view keeping on message more important than keeping inflation from overshooting their twopercent goal. With the economy retaining momentum, fiscal impetus remaining, and financial accommodation lingering, expect more of the same.

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