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Fed Cries Wolf, Traders Come Running – Ep. 169

  • I wanted to record a short podcast today just to discuss the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes that were released at 2:00pm this afternoon ET, which reflect the views of the Fed when they had their April meeting, some 6 weeks ago, when the Fed decided not to raise rates
  • As a result of the release of these minutes, everybody has now jumped to the conclusion that a June rate hike is not only on the table, but basically a done deal
  • I heard people talking about it on CNBC, “The Fed had to do this to show they are on a path to normalization – they said they would have a gradual pace, so they had no excuse but to do this.”
  • Do what?  They haven’t actually raised rates, they’ve just talked about it
  • Let me read you the statement they made about rates:

    Most participants judged that if incoming data were consistent with economic growth picking up in the second quarter, labor market conditions continuing to strengthen, and inflation making progress toward the Committee’s 2 percent objective, then it likely would be appropriate for the Committee to increase the target range for the federal funds rate in June.

  • They didn’t say they would do it, they said it would LIKELY be appropriate
  • Likely doesn’t mean definitely, and appropriate doesn’t mean they’re going to do it
  • Because even if they determine that it is appropriate it doesn’t mean they will do it
  • Before you even get to the likely and appropriate part of the statement, 2 things have to happen, or 3 things if you want to count inflation, but inflation has already happened
  • The economy has to pick up in Q2 – It doesn’t look likely that that’s going to happen – it is possible that we could get a second quarter stronger than the horrible Q1 but is 1 – 1.5% economic growth in Q2 picking up? It will still average out to a weak first half of the year
  • But the Fed also wants to see that labor conditions continue to strengthen