The most important central bank in the world, the Federal Reserve of the USA, has announced a historic decision as a result of its FOMC meeting on 20 September: the central bank balance sheet, hugely inflated in the wake of the bond purchase programme, will be gradually reduced from October onwards. Generally speaking this is a good sign, as the decision can be seen as further testimony to the normalisation of the economic environment.
Author: Felix Dornaus
Senior Fund Manager
The spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund was held in Washington from 20th to 23rd April. This event was the reason for an investor conference that I attended in order to get an idea of the status quo of the global economy as well as of risks and opportunities.
We have seen a number of trend reversals this year, one of them being the end of the negative growth surprises. The forecast of economic growth and inflation are currently not subject to downwards revisions any longer. Read more
The US central bank signalled the continuation of its loose monetary policy at its FOMC meeting on 27 April. This is remarkable given that along with the short-term stabilisation of the Chinese economy, this Fed policy is one of the most important reasons for the price rises of risky assets since February.
Following last week’s surprisingly strong employment report, the odds that the US Federal Bank will start raising its policy rate at the next FOMC-meeting in December jumped to almost 70%. Of course, 70% is still short of 100%, but most observers believe that something terrible must happen in the next four weeks to make the Fed reconsider, particularly in light of President Yellen’s statement in September that the FOMC’s thinking suggests a “call for a funds rate increase later this year”.
While the case for starting the lift-off remains a close call as Kenneth Rogoff pointed out, it has strengthened in recent weeks as US economic data have turned more positive relative to expectations, according to Citi’s economic surprise index. Most importantly, the improvement in the job market is continuing. The US economy has been adding, on average, 200,000 jobs in the non-farm sector each month in 2015.Read more
The US central bank Fed hinted at an increase of the Fed funds rate in December at its meeting on 28 October. A bias towards such an increase is referred to as tightening bias.
If the economic data permit it, the Fed will increase the Fed funds rate from practically zero percent. The extent and the speed of the increases will remain low. On a global scale, we can see deflation pressure (pressure for prices and wages to fall). The strong US dollar already has a negative impact on the US economy, the financial markets are still unstable, and the so-called natural interest rate, which comes with full employment and stable and low inflation, has fallen clearly in the past years. The outlook for the risky segments of the financial market remains positive in the short run, but uncertain in the medium term.
The beginning of Q4 is the time for an outlook on the coming year. At first we want to establish the determining factors for the economic activity and the markets. On this basis, we will introduce three scenarios.
Interest rate decision by the Fed
Tomorrow, Thursday 17 September 2015, the federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the US central bank Fed will be taking an important decision. Is the Fed funds rate to be raised or not? The financial markets have accorded this decision a particularly important role. After all, the rate hike by the most important central bank in the world could cause the degree of instability on the financial market to continue rising.
Regardless of whether or not a rate hike materialises, the Fed will communicate that the interest rate cycle will only be set off very gradually. At the same time, the projection for the final level of the cycle will probably be taken down a bit. If the Fed managed to alleviate the worries of excessive rate hikes, a slight increase of the Fed funds rate on coming Thursday would not upset the financial markets in any sustainable fashion. However, the weakest segments in the emerging countries would come under pressure.
Earlier this year the president of the ECB said we would have to get used to elevated levels of volatility. And it is true, the market environment has changed. The years 2009 to 2014 were subject to an asset price reflation regime. High rates of return were coupled with low volatility. This relationship has now reversed. The asset classes are now pricing in the moderate recovery in the industrialised economies, with low expected return amid elevated fluctuation as a rule.
We are almost approaching the end of the summer but it looks like we are back to April 2015 in Turkey. The election outcome and aftermath did not work as politicians had desired and the efforts to form a government have failed so far.