Fed Policy Meeting: When Hawks Cry – BMO CM

Fed Policy Meeting: When Hawks Cry – BMO CM

26 April 2016, 13:43
Roberto Jacobs

Fed Policy Meeting: When Hawks Cry – BMO CM

Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist at BMO Capital Markets, suggests that despite vastly improved financial conditions, faded concerns about China, and weaker deflationary pressures amid rising resource prices and a sagging dollar (down 5% on a trade-weighted basis since January’s 13-year high), no one on the planet expects the Fed to lift rates on Wednesday.

Key Quotes

“In fact, the recent U.S. economic data weigh more toward a rate cut than an increase (ergo, the futures market pricing in a 2% chance of such). This won’t happen, but the data clearly raise doubts about a June hike. Although the apparent downshift in GDP growth to around 1% (or less) in Q1 is unlikely to last, the FOMC will seek some assurance of a rebound before pulling the rate trigger again. This could require more than seven weeks of better data.

Here’s what to look for in the press statement to handicap the odds of a June move. If the statement downgrades the assessment of recent economic growth from “moderate” and retains the key phrase: “global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks”, then you can likely sweep June off the table. Instead, if it removes this phrase and qualifies the recent economic slowdown as temporary, then June will remain in play. Additionally, while Kansas City’s George looks to dissent again in favour of higher rates, don’t expect anyone else (notably Cleveland’s Mester) to join her given the recent soft data.

We continue to cling to a June hike. Admittedly, much more needs to go right than wrong in coming weeks. At a minimum, the downside surprises in the data must end, and the return of investor risk appetite must solidify. Based on her watershed speech of March 29 (aptly titled “The Outlook, Uncertainty, and Monetary Policy”), Chair Yellen wants some assurance that financial markets won’t turn sour again. So, we wouldn’t fall off our chairs if the Chair opts to stand pat again in June, or July, or even September.

But if growth rebounds moderately, joblessness declines further, and financial conditions remain supportive (as suggested by our index after turning negative earlier this year), then June will remain a “live” meeting. A rate increase here would mark six months since the inaugural tightening move in December… and start another six-month countdown before the next move.”


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