The Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) is meeting today and tomorrow to decide what to do. Well, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Fed Funds Target Rate (upper bound) will be raised to 1.75% from 1.50%.
But what is different at this meeting than at the last meeting in 2017? In short, GDP is expected to growth at a faster pace and inflation is rising ever so slowly.
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In many ways, it feels like a brave new world. Chairman Jerome Powell makes his debut with an expected interest-rate increase, replacing Janet Yellen. Financial conditions have tightened and the five rate increases under Yellen since December 2015 are finally being felt in the real economy, at least in mortgage rates. Tax reform has passed and Congress is lifting government spending caps, boosting the near-term growth outlook.
Yet Fed officials swear by their data dependence, and the numbers look strikingly similar to when the policy-setting committee last met. The inflation pickup officials have been waiting for still hasn’t materialized, wages are ticking higher but hardly surging, economic growth is chugging along and the job market continues to pull people off the sidelines.
And if we look at the Rudebusch Model for the Taylor Rule, it is screaming for a Fed rate hike even with unemployment rate at 4.1% and Core PCE Inflation at 1.52%.
While The Fed forecasts GDP to grow at 2.5%,
the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow Forecast for Q1 has fallen to 1.8%. Be warned! This is one noisy forecast model!!
Home prices keep growing at over twice that of hourly wage growth.
Part of The Fed’s Brave New World is trying to cope with housing prices rising over twice as fast as wage growth.
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