Duy: FOMC Recap

A few excerpts from Tim Duy at Fed Watch: FOMC Recap


The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) completed their June meeting with a 25 basis point rate hike, bringing the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.75-2.0 percent. The accompanying Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) revealed a modestly more optimistic outlook, as expected. The improving outlook prompted an upward revision to rate hike expectations with the median policymaker anticipating four rate hikes this year, up from three in March. The Fed dropped the explicit forward guidance language in the statement as they work to encourage market participants to undertake a more nuanced, data-driven approach to assessing the future path of rate hikes.

With the economy chugging along at a respectable clip that could exceed 4 percent in the second quarter, the Federal Reserve upgraded its assessment of growth from “moderate” to “solid.” Expected growth for 2018 as a whole rose from 2.7 to 2.8 percent while the unemployment forecast fell from 3.8 percent to 3.6 percent. If history is any guide, that forecast remains too pessimistic given the expected pace of growth this year.

Bottom Line: Pay attention to the interplay of the rate and economic forecasts and the flow of data. The pace of data will almost certainly not slow sufficiently to prevent the Fed from hiking in September and probably December. I would say September is essentially a lock at this point. I also think you need to pencil in rate hikes in March and June of 2019. Recognize though that by mid-2019 the data might reflect the lagged impact of past tightening and the yield curve is likely to be fairly flat; both factors would slow the pace of rate hikes. The Fed will face a more difficult choice if the data holds strong while the yield curve inverts.

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