Janet Yellen and the FED take center stage tomorrow and the consensus is for NO CHANGE. The market believes the FED will be on hold until March. BUT I OFFER THIS: If I was the FED chair I WOULD RAISE RATES 50 BASIS POINTS to take some of the risk out of the U.S. equity markets. The S&Ps are virtually unchanged since the December FOMC meeting but the market’s enthusiasm for anticipated tax cuts, regulatory relief, and possible currency intervention means the FED cannot wait to let the economy run “hotter for longer,” especially because of the 4.7% U3 unemployment level. If Chair Yellen wishes to burst the TRUMP exuberance it is time to move aggressively to stem the rise of a potential inflationary threat.
Posts Tagged ‘FOMC’
I’m still nursing a New Year’s hangover. It takes a long time for the mind to rid itself of all the news the mainstream media deems fit to read. But as the third rock keeps spinning, markets will keep moving and we will strive to untangle the ball of confusion. After today’s tepid ADP data the market has settled into a consensus for 175,000 nonfarm payrolls. Again, I would love to see a number greater than 250,000 just to test the recent market action. BONDS rallied, currencies rallied against the DOLLAR, precious metals are showing early year strength and commodities have held support levels in the age of TRUMFLATIONARY EXPANSIONARY EXPECTATIONS.
The first Friday of the month brings big news for the data dependent Fed. The market consensus is for 185,000 job gain and average hourly earnings increase of 0.2% and the work week to remain unchanged at 34.4 hours. In my opinion, a HUGE increase of 300,000 jobs with another 0.4% increase in wages (similar to last month) would bring great pressure on the FOMC to increase FED FUNDS more than the market’s expectation of 25 basis points. What I am saying is purely THEORETICAL but it would make for an interesting discussion for the DATA DEPENDENT FOMC. It’s especially interesting as the exuberance of the tax cuts, infrastructure projects, rollback of regulation, the equity markets should prompt the asymmetrical nature out of the FOMC decision-making process.
Sometimes looking back provides perspective in moving forward. As December begins we know the year-end is the global market’s attempt to position themselves for the coming year. The rise of populist voices has certainly sent tremors through financial markets. The most interesting aspect is how short-lived the disruptions have been. Brexit, no problem; coup in Turkey, no problem; Chinese economy sputtering, no problem; Donald Trump becoming the U.S. President, no problem; and this week’s Italian referendum, no problem.
The world’s central banks believe that the massive accumulation of bonds in a global condition of continued QE will be no problem. That is something we will continue to examine in 2017. The FOMC is certainly constrained by its continued asset purchases. The question at the FOMC should be: Why don’t we raise rates by 100 basis points if the TRUMP administration is going to pursue a robust fiscal stimulus? The FOMC model maintains the U.S. is at full employment and a retreat from austerity in the time of full employment OUGHT to be met with a rapid rise in interest rates or at the least beginning the aggressive reduction of the balance sheet. The year ahead will be rife with volatility as politics and debt overhang prove the motors of turbulence.
The world is all abuzz with the good feelings radiating from the aftermath of the Trump victory. However, no matter how long the U.S. equity market rallies, be certain that Trump is not draining the swamp of Washington, D.C. He is proving to be a caretaker. Today’s pick of Elaine Chao for Transportation Secretary is just more of the same. Ms. Chao is certainly qualified. After all, she has an MBA from Harvard, but being a past member of the Bush Cabinet means we are using old, worn-out tires. The Transportation Secretary will be overseer of many of the INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS the Donald has promised to deliver. The pork barrel these projects will be dipped in will be beyond lucrative and the wife of Mitch McConnell ought not to have been given this role.
Everybody has opinions on the recent election outcome but as usual most of the opinions are from the echo chamber and not factual in any way. This blog is dedicated to seeking profitable investment and trading opportunities as I sort through the noise of the financial media. As with Brexit, the punditry found itself trapped in its own rhetoric and every prediction but the weakness of the pound proved to be WRONG, at least in the short to medium-term. British Gilts (10-year notes) rallied substantially in the post-Brexit confusion and most importantly the Footise stock index rallied 15% off its election night bottom. The POUND did weaken substantially against the U.S. dollar and the euro currency but I have argued for a few years that the British current account made the relative strength of the POUND to its key trading partners unsustainable.
My appearance with Rick Santelli on CNBC picked up on last night’s blog post. We discussed our concerns about the 7-3 vote in which the Fed Governors bested the Presidents. The FOMC has proven to be horrendous forecasters as Larry Summers suggested in his Washington Post op-ed in which he called out Yellen for her speech at Jackson Hole. Comparing Yellen’s forecast to Bernanke’s horrendous outlook on the housing crisis containment in 2007 was a tremendous insult. It seems that the Magnificent Seven have circled the wagons in defense against the ubiquitous criticism being leveled at the world’s central banks from fellow academics, traders, and pension and insurance companies. There was an interesting headline by Bloomberg that summarized Yellen’s press conference: “Yellen: Rich, Deep, Serious Intellectual Debate Today.” The intellectuals prevailed within the walls of the world’s most important debating society. The outcomes from central bank policy will make the fourth quarter a land of great trading opportunity. Do not be short volatility on a middle-term basis. The investment world is sitting on the tinder of multiple prairie fires. Which spark will light the tinder?
The vote was the key to the FOMC statement. Three regional presidents voted to raise rates for various reasons but at least the votes reflected their speeches. The Magnificent 7 voted to maintain rates at the current levels and wait for more time for labor market conditions to tighten as wage growth accelerates. (I TELL YOU JANET IT IS ALWAYS SOMETHING.) So the governors, plus new dove James Bullard, held firm against the outlying presidents. There’s no inner court role for Mester, George or Rosengren. My problem is that Stanley Fischer and William Dudley, both vocal proponents of raising rates, voted with Chair Yellen. Make no mistake about it, THIS IS JANET YELLEN’S FED.
On the Santelli Exchange, me and Rick discussed the very weak ISM non-manufacturing and its impact on the FOMC. The surprise weakness sent PRECIOUS METALS soaring, the DOLLAR lower, BONDS AND EUROPEAN SOVEREIGNS HIGHER and EQUITY MARKETS moderately higher. The FED is under the microscope from so many analysts but the surprise of the day was the OP-ED piece by Professor Larry Summers in the Washington Post. Summers put an academic gloss on the erudite review of Jackson Hole but this sentiment is key: “My second reason for disappointment in Jackson Hole was that Fed Chair Janet Yellen, while very thoughtful and analytic, was too complacent to conclude that even if average interest rates remain lower than in the past, I believe that monetary policy will, under most conditions, be able to respond effectively. THIS STATEMENT MAY RANK WITH FORMER FED CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE’S UNFORTUNATE OBSERVATION THAT SUBPRIME PROBLEMS WOULD BE EASILY CONTAINED,” [emphasis mine]. This is a harsh assessment from a fellow academic, but more importantly it is a stinging criticism of the FED’s forecasting history.