Newly minted U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell will preside over his first Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting with an announcement of the committee's decision to come late Wednesday. Will the Federal Reserve (Fed) under Powell start things off with a rate hike right off the bat? It seems that this is the direction U.S. President Donald Trump wants the Fed to head and probably nominated Powell to the position with this unspoken understanding. With only eight meetings in the year and only seven remaining, if Powell needs to get in three hikes, he will probably start with this meeting. But is the economy robust enough to withstand three rate hikes?
The good news is that the current federal funds rate target is a band between 1.25 percent and 1.5 percent. This means three rate hikes of 25 basis points each will put the federal funds rate at a historically low 2.25 percent. The bad news is that it is a nearly 100 percent jump in rates, which is a serious increase. While headline numbers, unemployment and inflation are in ranges where an interest rate hike would be understandable, other indicators are not as clear. The federal labor force participation rate is still at its lowest in more than 40 years. Wage growth and retail sales growth are both down in the last three months. The stock market has been incredibly volatile as of late and the future of the economy is far from certain. If I were Powell, I would convince my fellow FOMC members to delay action for at least another two meetings until the data better supports a rate hike.
If, however, the FOMC has already decided to raise rates despite the data, that is exactly what they will do. As this column will go to print before the hike is announced, I have no idea what the Fed has decided as you read this, but I have a feeling that both Trump and Powell have waded too deep into the rates-have-been-kept-artificially-low-for-too-long pool that they have no choice but to raise rates at least once before the Fed's summer break as midterm election campaigning goes into full swing. If markets persist in worsening, then they can always stop raising them, but if they wait now they cannot possibly raise rates later if the markets do tank. So in short, Powell and the FOMC should not raise rates, but they probably will. If markets react the way I believe they will, then this will be the only rate hike, or perhaps one of only two hikes, this year.
News of former French President Nikolas Sarkozy being questioned this week for accepting campaign contributions from Libyan leader Moammer Gadhafi has added another stain to the EU's dealings with North Africa. If true, this means European politicians will accept bribes from dictators in exchange for recognition and favorable treatment. I have always assumed this was the case anyway, but seeing it actually proven is saddening. Kim and other dictators will take note of Gadhafi and Ben Ali when it comes to relinquishing power. Trump was right to agree to meet, and if he can pull off peace between the Koreas, this accomplishment will overshadow all his current scandals at home, and that is why he is motivated to do it.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.