The Fed just announced a big change to how it communicates with America

Chip Somodevilla/GettyFederal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell.
  • The Federal Reserve will hold press conferences after every policy meeting starting in January, Chairman Jerome Powell announced on Wednesday.
  • Since Ben Bernanke began the practice in April 2011, press conferences have been held once a quarter, four times out of the eight yearly scheduled meetings.
  • The change will give the Fed more room to cut or raise interest rates instead of waiting until meetings with press conferences, as is the custom.
  • “This change is only about improving communications,” Powell said, adding that holding more press conferences does not signal a faster pace of rate hikes.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announced Wednesday that starting in January, he will hold press conferences after every policy meeting.

Powell was speaking to reporters after the Fed announced its decision to raise interest rates.

Since former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke started holding press conferences in April 2011, they have happened once every quarter, or four times out of the eight yearly scheduled meetings. And since the Fed started its post-recession rate increases in late 2015, hikes have coincided with the conferences so that the chair has an opportunity to explain the decision.

Press conferences after every meeting would give the Fed more room to raise or cut interest rates as the economy warrants and to be less choreographed.

“I want to point out that having twice as many press conferences does not signal anything about the timing or pace of future interest-rate changes,” Powell said. “This change is only about improving communications.”

This change is yet another way Powell marks a stylistic shift from his predecessors. To start, he does not have an academic background, as his predecessors including Bernanke and Janet Yellen did. And his press conference in March set the record for the shortest ever.

On Wednesday, he opened the press conference by giving what he said was a “plain-English summary” of the state of the economy instead of reading the Fed’s prepared statement.

The Federal Open Market Committee voted to lift the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points, to between 1.75% and 2%, as had been widely expected. It also deleted a chunk of text contained in prior statements that indicated it expected the economy to “evolve in a manner that will warrant further gradual increases” in rates.

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