Fed Raises Rates for the 7th Time

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates today.  I think this is the 7th rate hike. Six of these rate hikes have now taken place since Donald Trump was elected; five of them since he was inaugurated. The official rate now is 1.75% to 2%.  The Federal Reserve targets the midpoint of that range.  But the Fed has been tightening a lot longer than those 7 rate hikes, because, remember, before they hiked rates, they talked about it and they were tapering.  And the tapering was a De Facto tightening, because interest rates were effectively negative while the fed was doing QE. So, as it was tapering those purchases, it was reducing how much rates were actually negative, and that was, in fact tightening.

Press Conference After Every Meeting?

So the Fed has been tightening for a lot longer than the markets believe, which is why the recession is probably going to come a lot sooner and be a lot deeper than what anyone believes. There were rumors that came out earlier in the week that Powell thinks there should be a press conference after every single meeting. Right now, they just do it quarterly, and when they initially announced that, the reaction in the markets was, “Oh, maybe that means more rate hikes.” because every time the Fed hikes rates, they have a press conference. So the thinking was, if they have more press conferences, they would have more rate hikes.

Powell’s Bullish Comments Contrarian Indicator

I don’t think it means that at all, in fact, there is no rule that says that the Fed needs a press conference to hike rates. They can hike rates at any meeting; in fact, they don’t even need a meeting! They can hike rates between meetings.  They just haven’t been doing it, but there’s nothing that says they can’t. So, I don’t think having more press conferences means anything, but people are always looking for an excuse to do something, so that might have been an excuse.  But if you listen to what Powell said at this press conference, he sounded bullish on the economy.  Listen to the words he chose.  Given the fact that he is so bullish and the fact that the Fed is a pretty good contrarian indicator, if Powell is extremely bullish, it likely means that the best days of our so-called growth are behind us, and it is all down hill from here.