By Bryan Rich
June 13, 5:00 pm EST
Watching the media and expert community digest the Fed decision is always interesting.
They are all programmed to home in on the worst-case scenario. It’s very similar to the way they parse politics.
In this case, the Fed projected an extra rate hike this year. They were projecting three hikes for 2018. Now they are projecting four hikes for the year (two of which are now in the rear-view mirror). Why an extra hike? Is it because they want to disrupt the recovery and undo all of their efforts of the past decade to manufacture that recovery? No. It’s because they think the economy is good! In fact, Powell (the Fed Chair) said “the main takeaway is that the economy is doing very well.”
And when asked about the impact of tax cuts, he said, we’ve yet to see the benefits. But, it should “provide significant support to demand over the next three years … encourage greater investment … and drive productivity.” This is exactly what we stepped through last week in my Pro Perspective notes (here). We laid out the components of GDP (consumption, investment, government spending and net exports) and we talked about the setup for positive surprises feeding into an economy that’s already running at near 3% growth — because pro-growth policies are just beginning to show up in the data!
With that, it should be no surprise that the Fed feels more comfortable telegraphing another hike, from what is still very low levels of interest rates.
Now, what is the negative scenario the pundits have been harping on? The yield curve. With the Fed gradually walking up short term rates (rates they set), the benchmark market interest rates (namely the 10-year government bond yield) has been soft. That creates yield curve flattening, which gets the bears excited that a yield curve inversion could be coming (a good historical predictor of recession).
Why is the 10 year yield soft? As we’ve discussed, the two major central banks that are still in the QE game have been anchoring longer term interest rates through their outright purchases of global government bonds (including lots of U.S. Treasuries, which keeps a cap on yields).
On that note, we have the ECB tomorrow. And the Bank of Japan will meet on monetary policy tomorrow night. The trajectory of global monetary policy is UP. And the more the Fed does, the more it forces that timeline elsewhere in the world to follow the Fed’s path on normalizing rates. The ECB will be following the Fed normalization path soon. And the Bank of Japan will be last. And when we get hints that it’s coming sooner rather than later, the yield curve will start steeping, and the bears will have a very hard time justifying their “sky is falling” view.