Fed Extends Self-Imposed Blackout Period and Adopts Fan Charts

  • Fed blackout to start the Saturday 10 days before FOMC meeting
  • Fan charts to display uncertainty around economic projections

The Federal Reserve’s policy-making body placed new restrictions on itself, extending the communications blackout period that surrounds meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee in which officials are not allowed publicly to discuss monetary policy.

The quiet period now begins two Saturdays before each regularly scheduled FOMC session, adding three days to the beginning of the blackout, according to a revised external communication policy published Wednesday. The end of the period remained at the close of the Thursday following each gathering. FOMC meetings, which happen eight time a year in Washington, typically start on a Tuesday and end on a Wednesday.

Officials also approved changes to the way they present quarterly macroeconomic projections to include fan charts, aimed at illustrating the level of uncertainty around each participants’ forecast. These will be released with minutes of the March 14-15 FOMC meeting, when Fed officials will update their projections for growth, unemployment, inflation and the appropriate future path for interest rates summarized in a so-called dot plot.