US government shutdown gets in the way of the data-dependent Federal Reserve

The effects of the longest US government shutdown in history keep piling up, and its latest victim is the Federal Reserve, Bloomberg writes. With all non-essential activities held in a deadlock for over a month, policymakers cannot reference the current data regarding the nation’s economy. “The motto of ‘data dependence’ is more relevant than ever,” said John Williams, NY Fed President last week in reference to the situation.

Analysts predict that the gaps in economic data will likely halt the Fed’s activities for the upcoming months, especially given the lack of transparency inherent in the Fed's old systems.

“It clouds the picture of how the economy ended 2018 and how it is starting the year off,” said Michael Feroli, chief US economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. The availability of timely statistics is especially important within the context of the approaching peak in the rate-hiking cycle.