The Fed Is Far More Dovish Than It Admits – Ep. 463

Recorded May 1, 2019
May 13 – 15, 2019

Market Looking for Validation of Expectations

Today was the conclusion of the FOMC meeting in which the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, and that is exactly what the market was expecting.  Nobody expected the Fed to hike, and nobody expected the Fed to cut. But apparently, a lot of people expected the Fed to be more dovish with respect to its outlook for a potential future rate cut. Remember, the Fed Fund futures are showing that the next move is likely to be a cut and that maybe the Fed will cut by 50 basis points by the end of the year, so the markets are probably looking for some reassurance from the Fed that the market’s expectations of lower interest rates are valid, and that’s not what they got today from Chairman Powell.

Inflation Below 2%.  Who Cares?

‘In fact, he was actually asked, point blank, by CNBC’s Steve Liesman – it was one of the first questions asked, maybe it was the first – whether or not the Federal Reserve was going to do something about persistently low inflation, because, after all, the official inflation rate is slightly below their target. I mean, if the target is 2%, we’re at 1.7%, 1.8%… Who cares?  But somehow this is an emergency, this is a disaster – we’re not hitting our 2% target, even though we’re pretty damn close.  But, is the Fed going to do something about it? And instead of saying, “Oh, yes, we’re going to do something about it, we’re going to cut rates to make sure that we have 2% inflation”, what Powell said was, “Well, yes, we acknowledge that inflation is lower than we would like and its lower than our goal, but we’re not worried, because we expect it to be transitory.” In other words, we’re not worried about inflation being too low, because we believe the inflation rate is going to rise, and so there’s nothing to worry about. In fact, what Powell said was that the Fed will be patient, but as of right now, they can’t see a reason why they should hike or they don’t see a reason why they should cut.