Markets & Economy

Beware Fed chairpersons speaking on Friday afternoons before long weekends!

No bomb today, just deep wisdom

Another week of anxious pencil-tapping in quiet markets, and one more holiday-shortened week ahead before events will conspire to move the herd. Long quiet, big move. A “data-dependent” Fed means more than ordinary waiting for data. If the Fed is waiting, too, then we’re really waiting. The first flash report on May manufacturing will appear Monday, June 1; employment data comes Friday, June 5. Nothing is going to happen until we know if the economy is coming out of its apparent stall, and at what slope. First-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) is going to be revised to negative, and 2Q will look pathetic, but it’s all about trade accounts, not actual stall. The pattern, exports-down/imports-up, means that we’re buying someone else’s production, but we’re still buying at a roughly 2 percent annual expansion pace. If consumption stops, then we’re stalling. Overseas data matters more all the time, but arrives at nearly random moments compared to the regular cy...