Saturday, June 18, 2016

FOMC Sees Fed Funds Going To 4% by 2018

Yesterday the FOMC provided a statement about the fed funds rate. The decision: No change.

Janet Yellen gave remarks and answered questions regarding the FOMC's decision to hold rates at this lower bound. Yellen fielded several hard questions from the audience, like "Do you think the Fed overstepped it's bounds in the AIG bailout?" and "Are you aware that housing prices and rents are squeezing the average consumer?" Yellen answered the questions head on, except for a question regarding whether or not the IMF had any business making recommendations about the US Federal Reserve. This question and the subsequent answer were lost.

The main takeaway, the clear message that Yellen was trying to relay, was that any decision to move rates would be "data driven", which is to say that the Fed will base its decision on the data and nothing else. It is a marvel how the Fed can say this and then say that rates will most likely go up before the end of the year. The disconnect is that Q1 data was bad, but the FOMC insists it's transitory, so we'll see.

 Perhaps the most interesting part of the presentation was the dot plot below. It's from a survey of FOMC participants on the timing and amount of rate action over the next 2 years and it's the pace or the trajectory that's fascinating, which is to say that by the end of 2017 the plot shows a fed funds rate hovering around 3-4%, which means at least 3.25 - 4.25 for the IOER. Yellen was surprised by the pace as well and alluded to it in her speech. Whatever the case, if rates do rise at this level banks will have field day.
One interesting note is that the effective fed funds rate is creeping up on its own -- hitting .14% yesterday after hovering around .12% since the beginning of the year.