The Fed Tries to “Nail the Landing” (For Once), Yield Curve

Today’s Fed announcement and subsequent news conference by Chairman Powell made the recent “about face” official.   Not only did the Fed not raise rates today, it indicated (via the infamous “dot plot”) that there are NO increases planned for 2019.    In fact, futures markets now predict a rate cut before any future rate hikes.  The Fed is not afraid of inflation, between steady commodity and energy prices and consumer prices remaining flat, the old relationship between full employment and inflation appears to be officially broken (RIP Phillips curve).  Powell also spoke of slowing growth in the US, China and Europe.  As the effects of the tax cut wane, he noted “slower growth of household spending and business fixed investment”.  Today’s comments had the feeling of an economy in “balance” with Powell again indicating the present Fed rate is, “in broad estimates of neutral”, advocating for patience and (importantly) that the data does not justify a move in either direction.  Past Fed actions (rate increases during expansions) have been blamed for causing recessions and cutting economic rallies short.   Maybe things are different this time?  Maybe the lack of inflationary pressures are allowing this Fed to “stop and smell the roses” while the economy enjoys a plateau instead of a peak? Stay tuned. By David R. Pascale, Jr. , Senior Vice President at George Smith Partners


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