This paper compares market reactions to forecasts of the policy rate path provided by FOMC participants (“dots”) in the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) with those to forward guidance provided by the FOMC in its statements. We find that market expectations of the time to lift-off from the zero lower bound are significantly affected in the expected direction by surprises in SEP dots and in forward guidance. We also find a significant impact of macroeconomic news on market participants’ expectations of time to lift-off. These results are consistent with forward guidance about policy rates and SEP forecasts each contributing to the public’s understanding of future Federal Reserve monetary policy, and with the conditionality of both forms of communication about future policy rates being understood. We also present evidence that market expectations concerning the time to lift-off are influenced by the maximum time to lift-off implied by forward guidance, the SEP and the economic outlook. An appendix provides the FOMC’s forward guidance after each meeting from January 2012 to September 2015 and our interpretation of the implied days to liftoff.
Keywords: forward guidance, policy rate forecasts, zero lower bound.
JEL classifications: E52, E58.