Fed’s Janet Yellen Humphrey Hawkins testimony 14 February 2017
Rate hike will likely be appropriate at one of its upcoming meetings if employment and inflation evolve in line with expectations
Reiterates the view that three hikes are possible in line with Fed forecasts
Repeats, waiting too long to tighten would be unwise
Gradual increases in Fed funds rate will likely be appropriate but mon pol is not on a set course
Hopes that fiscal policies will be consistent with putting the US on a sustainable trajectory
Incoming data suggests that the labour market continues to strengthen and inflation moving up to 2% in line with FOMC expectations
The buck has jumped on what is pretty much a repeat of the last FOMC meeting. USDJPY is up to 114.20 on this.
Traders have jumped on the “upcoming meeting” comment but that’s a straw clutch at best, as far as picking a date goes.
With President Donald Trump’s litany of executive orders grabbing the limelight, investors turn their attention back to central banks and economic data next week.
Here’s what to watch in the coming days.
The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December monetary policy meeting showed that the central bank could be forced to lift rates higher than expected if Congress passes Donald Trump’s economy-boosting tax cuts. So, when the Fed meets next week investors will be watching the Federal Open Market Committee’s statement for the Fed’s view on the US economy and inflation.
Economists widely expect the central bank will leave interest rates unchanged, noting that the absence of a press conference with Fed chair Janet Yellen leaves little room for major shifts in policy. “The February FOMC meeting should come and go with little market implications,” Tom Porcelli, economist at RBC Capital Markets, said. “The Fed is likely to continue to strike a positive tone on the economy and they may upgrade their inflation characterization toward a slightly more hawkish slant in the wake of headline CPI now breaching 2%.”
Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan’s meeting next week marks the one-year anniversary of its adoption of negative interest rate policy. The central bank is not expected to change its policy but it will provide updates on economic growth and inflation.
“Next week’s BoJ meeting should reveal a resolute central bank in its yield curve control framework,” Mazen Issa at TD Securities, said. “We expect the BoJ to be side-lined on all fronts. Speculative ‘taper talk’ is premature though we think this dynamic will need to be reassessed in the coming months.”
Elsewhere, the Bank of England is also expected to leave policy unchanged and update its forecasts as it unveils the inflation report. Economists expect the BoE to maintain a neutral stance on policy.
South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan has called on the US Federal Reserve to remain mindful of the impact of its decisions on emerging markets as it continues with a programme of raising interest rates.
Speakng at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Gordhan said the so-called ‘taper tantrum’ of 2013 reminded investors and policymakers of the strong links between global financial markets
“The Fed has shown a new kind of sensitivity to their decisions and the impact on emerging markets and we hope that will continue,” he said.
Now, he says pootential impacts on South Africa will ikely be limited, thanks in part to limits on foreign-currency debt levels. But he noted that other African countries have suffered greatly from the cost of servicing dollar debt along with depressed commodity prices.
He also noted that the Fed will be operating in an unusual environment under President Trump.
“The new administration has a particular political outlook, to put it politely, and the Fed has another. That will have implications.”
While the Fed watchers have been obsessing in recent weeks about the pace and size of any upcoming Fed rate hikes, summarized best by Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan who earlier today said:
- KAPLAN: AMONG BIGGEST DISAGREEMENTS AT FED IS ON HOW QUICKLY TO RAISE RATES
… and unexpected new buzzword emerged today, namely Fed balance sheet unwind when first Philly Fed’s Steve Harker noted it in his speech earlier this morning…
- HARKER: WHEN RATES AT 1%, NEED TO LOOK AT UNWINDING BAL SHEET
followed later in the day by St. Louis Fed’s James Bullard who, likewise, hinted that selling Fed assets may be coming soon:
- BULLARD: BAL SHEET ROLLOFF MAY BE BETTER THAN AGGRESSIVE HIKING
Of course, how credible it is that the the Fed may actually engage in this is anyone’s guess: should the Fed “unexpectedly” start to reduce its balance sheet, the impact on global yields would be devastating, and make the Taper Tantrum and the TanTrump seems like child’s play in comparison. Which, perhaps, is why today for the first time we got not one but two such “trial balloons” from two separate Fed presidents, just to gradually acclimate the market with the concept of upcoming balance sheet normalization.
Did you ever notice that when you look at all the failed predictions in any given December, what ended up happening was the opposite of what everyone predicted?
Contrarian Economic Predictions
Given that most predictions end up being wrong, why not just take a look at what passes for conventional wisdom and do the opposite?
Warning: many of these involve Trump.
1. Trump is going to nuke somebody in 2017
It is true that Trump wants to increase, rather than decrease, our nuclear capabilities, which runs pretty much counter to anybody’s idea of what constitutes peaceful behavior in 2017.
The interesting thing about the nuclear threat is that as the popular perception of it has waned since the Cold War, the actual nuclear threat has increased as the number of nuclear weapons has declined.
What if the opposite happens—what if peace breaks out all over in 2017? And what if it is because of Trump?
2. Trump’s billionaire cabinet is going to turn the United States into a vast plutocracy
Stocks ended mixed Thursday as retailers dominated the news with Macy’s and Kohl’s both plunging following weak holiday-season reports that led the chains to cut their profit forecasts.
Still, the Nasdaq composite’s modest gain of 11 points, or 0.2%, was enough to notch a new all-time high. Settling at at 5487.94, it topped the old record by half a point.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 43 points, a 0.2% decline to 19,899.29. Losing 0.1% was the S&P 500, which settled at 2269 even.
nvestors were also focusing on upcoming U.S. jobs data following the publication of the minutes to the Federal Reserve’s last board meeting.
Private U.S. companies added 153,000 jobs in December, according to payroll processor ADP. That total was a bit lower than analysts expected and slightly slower than the pace of hiring for the rest of 2016. The government will issue its own hiring report on Friday.
The jolly chaps and chapesses at Danske Bank have the euro all mapped out for next year
Danske see EURUSD bottoming at 1.0200 in their 1 month forecast.
“In the short term, on the one hand there will be downward pressure on the US monetary base from the higher federal funds target and from the impact of new banking regulation with US banks set to be required to have an LCR of 100% by 1 January 2017. On the other hand, deposits on the US treasury account may fall at the beginning of next year after a resuspension of the debt ceiling, which will tend to increase the monetary base. Overall, this is likely to be marginally positive for USD and weigh on USD FX forward points vis- à-vis EUR and the Scandinavian currencies on top of the impact of the repricing of the path of Federal Reserve rate hikes, e.g. keeping the 3M EUR/USD basis spread around the present 70-80bp, and thus maintaining a significant negative carry on short USD positions.”
In 12m they see the euro at 1.1200.
Mainland China has lost its status as the largest overseas holder of the US debt to Japan as the recent decline in the renminbi’s FX rate and the strengthening yen have affected the value of the two nations’ respective Treasury note portfolios.
The yen’s status as safe haven asset as fiscal stimulus effort have attracted investment capital to Japan, resulting in stronger yen, whilst China, struggling with low factory-gate inflation and weak international demand for manufactured goods, had to decrease its holdings of the US debt. Japan, now the biggest foreign holder of US Treasury debt, held $1.13 trln worth of US bonds in October, whilst China’s holdings shrank to their six-year lowest at $1.12 trln, according to the data from the US Department of the Treasury. Beijing has been selling US bonds in order to alleviate the downward pressure on the renminbi’s FX rate stemming from lingering economic turmoil. Mainland China uses the dollars obtained from selling the Treasuries to buyback the renminbi, currently at its 8-year lowest in offshore trading.
Japan, however, had been selling Treasuries in early autumn, too, due to the uncertainty surrounding the US presidential election. The subsequent developments in the form of the election of Donald Trump and the plunge in Treasury bond value accompanied by the rising benchmark 10-year yield have proven selling Treasuries the right move, but the yen’s ongoing appreciation has made Japan the largest international US bond holder.
Stocks lost steam Friday as the Dow failed in another attempt at topping the 20,000 mark for the first time ever.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost less than 0.1%, down 8 points to finish at 19,843.41. The S&P 500 fell 0.2%, while the Nasdaq composite shed 0.4%.
After an initial jolt from the Fed’s interest rate hike decision this week, markets adjusted to the prospect of more increases that policymakers signaled were in store as they move to “normalize” interest rates. The Fed raised rates for only the second time in a decade and hinted three more hikes are on the way in 2017, rattling markets used to ultralow borrowing costs that have fueled a multiyear stock boom. The Fed’s move now shifts the focus from central bank policy to economic growth as the driver of stock market performance.
Bond yields gave up some of their big gains from the last few days.The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.58% from 2.60% late Thursday, putting at least a temporary halt to its strong rally since last month’s presidential election.
As expected, in addition to raising the Fed Funds rate by 25 bps, the Fed similarly noted that it would revise the mechanics behind its reverse repo operations, raising the rate it charges on reverse repos by 25 bps to 0.5%, the actual means by which the Fed will hike rates for most market participants.
Here is the statement that the Fed released regarding the change in overnight reverse repos:
During its meeting on December 13-14, 2016, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) directed the Open Market Trading Desk (the Desk) at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (New York Fed), effective December 15, 2016, to undertake open market operations as necessary to maintain the federal funds rate in a target range of ½ to ¾ percent, including overnight reverse repurchase operations (ON RRPs) at an offering rate of 0.50 percent, in amounts limited only by the value of Treasury securities held outright in the System Open Market Account (SOMA) that are available for such operations and by a per-counterparty limit of $30 billion per day.
To determine the value of Treasury securities available for ON RRP operations, several factors need to be taken into account, as not all Treasury securities held outright in the SOMA will be available for use in such operations. First, some of the Treasury securities held outright in the SOMA are needed to conduct reverse repurchase agreements with foreign official and international accounts.1 Second, some Treasury securities are needed to support the securities lending operations conducted by the Desk. Additionally, buffers are needed to provide for possible changes in demand for these activities and for possible changes in the market value of the SOMA’s holdings of Treasury securities.
Taking these factors into account, the Desk anticipates that around $2 trillion of Treasury securities will be available for ON RRP operations to fulfill the FOMC’s domestic policy directive. In the highly unlikely event that the value of bids received in an ON RRP operation exceeds the amount of available securities, the Desk will allocate awards using a single-price auction based on the stop-out rate at which the overall size limit is reached, with all bids below this rate awarded in full at the stop-out rate and all bids at this rate awarded on a pro rata basis at the stop-out rate.
These ON RRP operations will be open to all eligible RRP counterparties, will settle same-day, and will have an overnight tenor unless a longer term is warranted to accommodate weekend, holiday, and other similar trading conventions. Each eligible counterparty is permitted to submit one proposition for each ON RRP operation, in a size not to exceed $30 billion and at a rate not to exceed the specified offering rate. The operations will take place from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. (Eastern Time). Any changes to these terms will be announced with at least one business day’s prior notice on the New York Fed’s website.
The results of these operations will be posted on the New York Fed’s website. The outstanding amounts of RRPs are reported on the Federal Reserve’s H.4.1 statistical release as a factor absorbing reserves in Table 1 and as a liability item in Tables 5 and 6.