Why Is The Federal Reserve Not Selling?

Lior Alkalay - INO.com Contributor


On March 15th, the Federal Reserve Chairman, Janet Yellen, announced that the Fed would raise its target rate to 0.75-1.00% from 0.5-0.75%. Yellen also stressed, in a clear, hawkish tone, that the United States economy is doing well. After roughly three months of “hints” embedded in the Fed’s many statements, that news was hardly a surprise.

But in the same speech, Yellen stressed that the Fed was not ready to start selling the $4.5 trillion in the Treasury Notes, Treasury Bonds and mortgage papers that it holds on its balance sheet. Instead, Yellen stressed that the Fed sees rate hikes as the monetary tool. Further, rate hikes, as a tightening measure, must first be exhausted before the Fed would start selling those trillions. That was a clear retreat from the hints the Fed had dropped in the weeks which followed President Trump’s inauguration.

In fact, one could go so far as to say Yellen’s rhetoric, with respect to the Fed’s balance sheet, has been dovish; the way Yellen specifically emphasized how cautious the Fed is about the prospect of trimming its balance sheet singled that option out as some kind of a “bomb” that the Fed doesn't really want to drop and which could send markets into panic mode. If, indeed, the US economy doing so well, why then is the Fed not ready to roll back Quantitative Easing, a stimulus measure generally considered life support for the banking system? Continue reading "Why Is The Federal Reserve Not Selling?"

Eurozone: 2017 Spells More Trouble

Lior Alkalay - INO.com Contributor


The year 2017 is just around the corner and it seems that more troubles are brewing for the Eurozone. The region faces a deadly combination of a premature ECB taper, Fed tightening and more political uncertainty. Together, those factors could disrupt the already fragile Eurozone recovery.

ECB Tapers While Fed Tightens

Mario Draghi, the ECB President, so far has proved (and more than once) his ability to stabilize the Eurozone economy and delicately navigate monetary policy. But, in the latest ECB rate decision, which was also the last for 2016, Mario Draghi may have slipped up and acted a bit too hastily. Draghi declared that the ECB would reduce its monthly bond purchases from the current pace of €80 billion a month to €60 billion, beginning in April 2017. Despite constant denials from the ECB, there is simply no other way to interpret Draghi’s declaration but as a tapering of the ECB’s Quantitative Easing program. And, in the world of monetary policy, especially ultra-loose monetary policy, less stimulus equals tightening.

The ECB is effectively rolling back part of the brakes it has used to curb volatility in the Eurozone debt market. When the Greek crisis loomed, the ECB used QE to curb volatility. Likewise, when the Spanish banking crisis erupted and, as of late, with Brexit and the Italian banking crises, the ECB quickly responded. The ECB’s massive QE program helped restrain the shocks to the system. Continue reading "Eurozone: 2017 Spells More Trouble"

FOMC: Not Enough Inflation, Folks

By: Gary Tanashian of biiwii.com

Not enough inflation.  That’s what the Fed is saying yet again.

FOMC Statement

“Inflation has continued to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective, partly reflecting earlier declines in energy prices and in prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; most survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance, in recent months”

The problem is, that like their innovative friends at the BoJ, which apparently thinks it is going to now engineer the Japanese yield curve into an inflationary environment, the US Fed is too heavily involved in the Treasury market.  So I ask you if just maybe the signals they are looking for in bonds are all screwed up by their very presence in bonds, 24/7 and 365 since 2008?  Hello Op/Twist… Continue reading "FOMC: Not Enough Inflation, Folks"

Top Five Reasons Why the Fed Won't Raise Rates This Month

George Yacik - INO.com Contributor - Fed & Interest Rates


Eric Rosengren, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, singlehandedly spooked the financial markets last Friday when he commented that “a reasonable case can be made” for the Fed to start raising interest rates soon, which traders and investors interpreted to mean as early as next week’s FOMC monetary policy meeting.

“If we want to ensure that we remain at full employment, gradual tightening is likely to be appropriate,” Rosengren said. “A failure to continue on the path of gradual removal of accommodation could shorten, rather than lengthen, the duration of this recovery.”

While I certainly don’t have any issue with what Rosengren said – I think the Fed should have started raising rates two years ago – I’m a little puzzled what exactly he said that put the markets to flight. He didn’t seem to say anything that other Fed officials, including Janet Yellen, hadn’t also said periodically recently, plus he didn’t offer any imminent schedule for raising rates. Yet that was apparently enough to get stock and bond traders to bail. Continue reading "Top Five Reasons Why the Fed Won't Raise Rates This Month"

Same Old, Same Old From The Fed

George Yacik - INO.com Contributor - Fed & Interest Rates


If we’re to believe the financial press, there is at least a 50-50 chance the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its next meeting on September 20-21. I’ll believe it when it actually happens – but not a minute before then.

The Wall Street Journal story on the release of the minutes of the Fed’s July 26-27 meeting last week, written by its senior Fed watcher Jon Hilsenrath, said the Fed announcement “suggested a rate increase is a possibility as early as September, but that the Fed won’t commit to moving until a stronger consensus can be reached about the outlook for growth, hiring and inflation.”

But haven’t we heard that before? All the Fed did was provide more of the same “let’s wait and see what happens before we do anything” prevarications.

“Members generally agreed that, before taking another step in removing monetary accommodation, it was prudent to accumulate more data in order to gauge the underlying momentum in the labor market and economic activity,” the Fed minutes actually said. “Members judged it appropriate to continue to leave their policy options open and maintain the flexibility to adjust the stance of policy based on incoming information.”

Sound familiar? Continue reading "Same Old, Same Old From The Fed"