Rate Hike!

When will the Fed cut rates? Just days ago, the media were abuzz with speculation it would happen in March. Really, for most of the time since the Fed’s Big Pivot in December. Some erudite analysis argued for May. Then with the upside surprise in the CPI earlier this week, there is even speculation it won’t happen until June or later. But regardless of the favored date, it’s been hard to see, read or hear any financial news without stumbling over stories about the timing of the next Fed rate cut, and how many there will be this year.

Given this media cacaphony, investors could be forgiven for having missed the actual rate hikes that have quietly taken place just since the first of the month. The one year Treasury is up 26 bp. The five year is up 45 bp. The ten 40 bp. In 13 days.

Remarkable. The coverage of speculation about when a central planning committee might cut rates has almost completely eclipsed reporting of actual market fact that has just actually happened. In the opposite direction. The financial media deem a maybe possibly quarter point Fed cut more interesting and important than a real live quarter point hike in the thirty three trillion dollar Treasury market.

The drawing of conclusions is left as an exercise.


13 thoughts on “Rate Hike!

  1. Milton Kuo says:

    In his interview with “60 Minutes,” Powell suggested that the majority of the FOMC projects that the Fed Funds Rate will be about 100 bps lower this year which the financial media takes to mean four 25 bps rate cuts.

    As for the high CPI, David Rosenberg says that the Fed targets the PCE deflator. The Fed doesn’t use the CPI because rent has too heavy a weight in it.


    Good heavens. Rent is high-frequency, highly volatile data? (I presume that’s the excuse the Fed would give for not liking using rents in the measuring of inflation.) I get the strong impression that the Fed continues to execute outre monetary policy because it papered over the housing bubble crash of 2008 and created an even bigger debt bubble that is on the verge of crashing as seen in the defaults occurring in commercial real estate in multifamily housing.

    The unconventional monetary policy will never end until the bad debt is genuinely written down and creditors are forced to eat losses. Either that or a currency crisis.

    1. Finster says:

      And there you have it. The source of the problem: Federal Open Mouth Policy.

      Wall Street was pleading for easier money – it always does – and Powell Inc obliged with talk, sending another wave of inflation into the system. Asset prices soared first – as they always do – and consumer prices follow. Financial conditions eased and M2 began rising anew.

      All they needed to do was keep their mouths shut. But nooo …

    2. Finster says:

      Aye, the Fed has touted PCE for years. In practice, it’s more fickle. First “core” then “supercore”. Bottom line, whatever justifies what it wants to do.

      As for the ultimate denouement, I nominate the currency crisis. The fiscal path makes it practically inevitable. Looked at from a Keynesian perspective, it’s in extreme territory even for recessionary times … where will it go when times actually become recessionary?

      The Fed will be forced to choose beheeen saving the bond market or the currency. And all indications are it will let the currency go.

  2. jk says:

    given that inflation is much stickier than markets have assumed, a rate cut at the short end would likely mean higher rates at the long end. pmi’s have been rising, and unemployment is still being awaited [though the seasonal adjustments and birth-death model are puffing up employment numbers]. i doubt we’ll see a fed cut this year.
    i’m still waiting to see if the 10yr reaches my target of 6%.
    there were more coupons in the most recent qra. i think janet is reloading the rrp so she can dump it in the 3rd quarter, before the election.

    1. Finster says:

      It’s only a matter of time. One fine day, a 6% ten year will look low.

      Inflation is indeed stickier than the consensus held. But it’s not some occult intrinsic property … it’s the image of a Fed losing its resolve. The pressure from Wall Street is heavy. Bonuses were slashed in 2022. Despite its tough posturing in the early going, this Fed will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into staying the course.

      The irony is that actual policy – Fed funds and QT – is very likely about right. It’s the talk that’s the problem.

  3. Finster says:

    LOL:-( Just saw a Bloomberg blurb reporting that SocGen is flagging the possibility of further rate hikes from the Fed. If it weren’t for the easy talk they would be unnecessary … and if they do become necessary, Powell Inc will rue the day they threw gasoline on the fire of speculation that the next move would be lower.

    Meanwhile … back in the real world … the market has already hiked rates.

    1. Milton Kuo says:

      The neverending expectations of rate cuts (bailouts) so that there will be renewed speculation in overpriced assets (especially real estate) is precisely why I think that rates should be much higher for much, much longer (let’s talk decades). Speculators, especially those who speculate using debt, must be utterly and ruthlessly destroyed (and that includes the systemically “important” institutions and the billionaires) to end this cycle and put the fear of the iron law of debt compounding (exponential debt growth) into people.

      1. Finster says:

        Bulls eye, Milton. I think the moneyed set is pumping the rate cut talk to kite prices of assets it wants to unload at premium prices. Kind of a buy-the-rumor-sell-the-news kind of thing. Stock market price performance hasn’t been so great once rates are actually going down.

        The Fed cut rates all the way through both of the last two major bear markets in 2000-2002 & 2007-2009. In the latter case for instance the first rate cut came in September 2007, just one month before the market peak. Eighteen months and a dozen rate cuts later stock prices had declined by more than half. No wonder Wall Street media want to milk the anticipation of cuts for all it’s worth.

        I can think of no other compelling reason for them to plaster the rabble with speculation about Fed rate cuts while market rate hikes are a factual reality.

    1. Finster says:

      In just fourteen days the one year UST rate has been hiked exactly 25 bp. Only in the topsy turvy world of financial media does speculation trump fact.

      And it’s all so unnecessary. Had the Federal Open Mouth Committee not endorsed the speculation, the fact could well be moot.

  4. Finster says:

    This morning January PPI joins January CPI in the hotter than expected category. The media spin machine is busy dismissing this reversal as transitory.

    Where have we heard that before.

  5. jk says:

    re billionaires unloading stock at premium prices, it is no accident that bezos has sold $6billion of amzn recently. his past sales have always been timely, btw.

    1. Finster says:

      It’s been getting worse ever since the buyback floodgates opened. It’s now routine for corporate insiders to get “incentive” pay via stock options then use stockholder funds to inflate their value. Not to mention the billions in Wall Street bonuses. A down year for stocks means a down year for bonuses.

      Worse yet is it’s corrupted financial media. Steve Blumenthal’s On My Radar features a lampooning of financial media manipulation:

      We Are Being Played

      See the section “The Washington Pravda and the Wall Street Izvestia, by Ben Hunt”.

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