Fed Doves Take Flight

A ‘wild card’ segment has been added to NFTRH reports because I wanted the freedom to go out of bounds in any direction, beyond our usual areas of disciplined coverage. Last week it was a look at the Semiconductor sector.

This week it is Fed policy with a side trip down memory lane, trying once again to illustrate why today is not at all like the ZIRP era and why the post-2015 re-connect between the Fed Funds rate and the stock market does not bode well for stocks, assuming the Fed really is going soft.

Excerpted from tomorrow’s edition of Notes From the Rabbit Hole, which will also include loads of actionable analysis along with the more theoretical stuff below…

Fed Doves Take Flight (But We Are Not in Kansas Anymore)

Wise guys trading Fed Funds futures see no more rate hikes in 2019, and a few even imagine a rate cut before year-end. Here are the projections for the next 3 meetings, showing an overwhelming view that the Fed will hold the current 225-250 target rate.  Continue reading "Fed Doves Take Flight"

The Fed's New Dual Mandate

As most of us probably know by now, the Federal Reserve operates under a “dual” mandate from Congress to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” (Leave it to the federal government to give a “dual” mandate three goals. But I digress).

Since the Fed effectively gets its mandate from Congress, it stands to reason that Congress can also change the mandate if it wants. Forthwith, I am humbly suggesting that it do just that. Namely, the word “moderate” should be replaced by the words “zero percent,” while the Fed will be given a new directive to ensure that stock prices rise by at least 8% a year. Given this new command, the “stable prices” mandate may have to go, but I’m sure reasonable people can agree that’s a small price to pay (no pun intended) for a guarantee against any investor losing money.

I’m confident that this is one thing that President Trump, who says he’s a “low-interest person,” and the Democrats in Congress, who need lots of wealthy people to support their socialist agenda, can wholeheartedly embrace. I’m sure Fed chair Jerome Powell and his successors will be happy, too, since it will forever protect them from any political criticism. Continue reading "The Fed's New Dual Mandate"

The Screws Tighten On The Fed As The Fed Readies To Tighten

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


If we can believe Janet Yellen – or rather those who believe in what they think she means – then the Federal Reserve is going to raise interest rates at its next monetary policy meeting in December. This is perhaps an appropriate time for it to do so, as it looks like the Fed is about to enter a new era. Pressure is growing on the central bank to reform itself and the way it does business, including making monetary policy.

Once again, the Fed has shown itself to be following rather than leading the market. Last week, in congressional testimony, Yellen said the Fed may raise interest rates “relatively soon,” which most people expect means at its December 13-14 meeting. This in the wake of the recent 60 basis point surge in long-term interest rates since Donald Trump was elected president. The yield on the Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note is up 100 bps since July 8, during which time the Fed has kept rates unchanged.

Yellen told the Joint Economic Committee that “the economy has made further progress this year” toward the Fed’s employment and inflation goals. And indeed recent economic reports have borne that out, including those released last week: Continue reading "The Screws Tighten On The Fed As The Fed Readies To Tighten"

Will There Be A November Surprise?

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


In its most recent Beige Book, covering late August through early October, released last week, the Federal Reserve noted that although economic “outlooks are positive, contacts in several sectors cite the upcoming presidential election as a source of near-term uncertainty, delaying some business decisions.”

The same could be said for the Fed itself. How much uncertainty has it created and business decisions has it delayed by its endless dawdling and indecisiveness on whether or not to raise interest rates? No matter who wins the vote, the election will end – maybe not on November 8, if it can be shown that someone did, in fact, rig the voting – but eventually, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will become president. But we have no such certitude that the Fed won’t continue to tease the markets about when it will start normalizing monetary policy. Continue reading "Will There Be A November Surprise?"

The Fed Tease Continues - But For How Much Longer?

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


Way back in high school, my freshman algebra teacher told us about Zeno’s Paradox, which the Greek philosopher (Zeno, not my teacher) explained through the story of Achilles and the Tortoise. According to the story, the two were engaged in a footrace, but no matter how much faster Achilles could run compared to the tortoise, he could never quite catch up to him. Why? Because while Achilles could consistently halve the distance between himself and the slower-footed reptile, the gap between the two could be reduced fractionally an indefinite number of times, so, therefore, he could never catch up – theoretically speaking, of course.

I was reminded of that story when I read the media headlines about the release last week of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s September 20-21 meeting. Once again, the Fed said it was almost, but not quite, ready to tighten monetary policy. This time, the Fed used the words “relatively soon” to describe the timing of its next rate increase, which would be the first one since last December.

“Several members judged that it would be appropriate to increase the target range for the federal funds rate relatively soon if economic developments unfolded about as the committee expected,” the minutes said. Also, those members – still the majority – who still wanted to “await further evidence” before voting for a rate hike said it was a “close call” in their decision to wait.

In other words, like Achilles chasing the tortoise, the Fed just keeps getting closer and closer to raising rates but just never gets to that point. Continue reading "The Fed Tease Continues - But For How Much Longer?"