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Fed Raises Rates by 0.75%, Biggest Increase Since 1994

“Seinfeld” was a must-see show on TV and “Forrest Gump” was packing cinemas back when Fed Chair Greenspan raised rates by 0.75% in November of 1994. Today’s rate increase was expected after last Friday’s CPI report of 8.6% overall, with a 6.0% jump in core inflation. The news broke Monday and was confirmed by many bank analysts. This led to a huge jump in the 10-Year Treasury from about 3.04% (Friday morning) to as high as 3.50% (Yesterday). Stock markets plunged with the Dow losing about 10% of its value in the last week.

Today’s Fed announcement and press conference by Fed Chair Powell, while hawkish, actually calmed markets. Why? It was a case of “Sell the rumor, buy the news.” Stock markets rose and the bond market rallied – the 10-Year dropped to 3.29%. Markets see a Fed that is determined to fight inflation and Powell provided more clarity on the future. Markets were in free fall largely due to the uncertainty of monetary policy going forward. Today, Powell and his colleagues helped assuage those concerns with the following comments: (1) The planned increase at next month’s meeting will be “50 or 75 basis points” (so a 75 bp increase is not “for sure”), (2) “75 bp increase is a large one, and I do not expect moves like this to be common”, (3) Predictions from the Fed: the Fed Fund’s target rate for year end 2022 is 3.4% (note that this estimate was 1.9% in March) and 3.8% for year-end 2023, before tapering down to 2.4% – the neutral rate. The Fed Funds rate is at 1.50% – 1.75%, 30-Day SOFR is 1.48%, and 30-Day LIBOR is 1.50%. Sign of the Times: “Collars” are back. Interest rate caps are now also being offered with a “collar” that can alleviate costs. The cap purchaser also “sells a floor” to the cap provider by agreeing to pay a minimum interest rate if rates drop. Stay tuned…

By David R. Pascale, Jr. , Senior Vice President at George Smith Partners