Early in the day Ben Bernanke, the former Fed chief, had a TV interview on one of the financial news programs where he said that “the Fed should heed market expectations for interest rates.”

The markets opened up on a large clip, including the FTSE, but then something happened midday and they floated down. By closing, the major US markets were mixed, either barely up or barely down.

I wondered what had happened to change the momentum, and after a few minutes of looking around I found it. Apparently, Bernanke wasn’t the only one with a platform today. No, also up on deck were Rosengren and Williams.

It’s not as if I make a habit out of it, but I really hate those occasional moments when I catch myself saying something stupid. What’s even worse is when it happens and I don’t notice that nonsense has come out of my mouth until it’s been out there for several minutes and it’s too late to clarify what I really meant. Apparently, both Rosengren of the Boston Fed and Williams of the San Fran Fed had such lapses today because, at least according to CNBC, they made these comments:

Williams:

The comments suggest that the Fed must do quite a bit of communicating if its officials are to feel comfortable raising rates this year, as Williams says he thinks will be appropriate.

The Fed last month held off on raising interest rates, citing concerns about global risks and low inflation.

Interest rates have been near zero for almost seven years now, and the last time the Fed raised rates was in 2006.

“We are essentially at full employment,” he said. “We have to keep an eye on where the goal posts are.”

Rosengren:

Eric Rosengren still expects the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year despite what the head of the Boston Fed called a “weak” September jobs report, which could signal a more significant economic slowdown that delays the policy tightening.

In a Reuters interview, Rosengren said the slowdown in hiring last month effectively heightens his sensitivity to the economy’s performance the rest of the year. If it grows at less than a 2 percent pace, or if unemployment rises from 5.1 percent now, he would probably prefer to wait until next year for the much-anticipated rate hike.

The straightforward comments could help clarify what the U.S. central bank means by its “data-dependent” approach to deciding when to tighten monetary policy, an approach that has caused confusion among investors and economists since the Fed delayed the policy change last month.

Rosengren, a dovish (??) Fed official who regains a vote on policy next year, said he does not need to see actual evidence thatinflation or wages are rising in order to back an initial rate hike. But the labor market, which is much improved since the recession, is key.

“This was definitely a weak employment report,” he told Reuters over the weekend at the Boston Fed.

They both seem to be fretting about the lack of clarity regarding the Fed’s goals. So, maybe I can help them out.

The Fed’s goal post is the 2% inflation target, not unemployment.

The Fed’s goal post is the 2% inflation target, not unemployment.

The Fed’s goal post is the 2% inflation target, not unemployment.

The Fed’s goal post is the 2% inflation target, not unemployment.

The Fed’s goal post is the 2% inflation target, not unemployment.

The Fed’s goal post is the 2% inflation target, not unemployment.

Raising interest rates in a period of sub 1% inflation with 2% so far off in the distance, it might as well never happen, makes no sense.

That’s why everyone is confused.

I might also mention that CNBC is of little help, labeling Rosengren, someone who wants to raise interest rates now as “dove” when there is nothing dove-ish about it.

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