What’s It Going To Be? Rate Cuts Or Rate Increases (Horrible Jobs Market While Moderating Inflation And Increasing Bank Credit Growth, 30Y Mortgage Rate UP 156% Under Biden)

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by confoundedinterest17

Jerome Powell and The Federal Reserve have to make a decision about tightening monetary policy or loosening it. It’s a Presidential election year and The Fed will probably do what is necessary to support The Biden Administration’s re-election. But let’s look at the various conflicting economic indicators that are causing confusion at The Fed.

First, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation wasn’t hotter than expected in February, which could keep a mid year interest rate cut on the table.

The year-over-year change in the so-called “core” Personal Consumption Expenditures index — which excludes volatile food and energy prices — clocked in at 2.8% for the month of February.

That was in line with economist expectations and down from 2.9% in January. Core prices rose 0.3% from January to February, which was also in line with expectations and down from 0.5% in the previous month.

The new PCE reading could be an encouraging development to some Fed officials who raised questions in recent months about the persistence of inflation after some hotter-than-expected numbers at the start of 2024.

“Core services inflation is slowing and will likely continue throughout the year,” Jeffrey Roach, chief economist for LPL Financial, said in a note.

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“By the time the Fed meets in June, the data should be convincing enough for them to commence its rate normalization process. But where we sit today, markets need to have the same patience the Fed is exhibiting.”

Some Fed officials have been cautioning investors to be patient about the pace of rate cuts.

Fed Governor Chris Waller, for example, said Wednesday that he is in no hurry to cut and needs to see at least a couple months of better data before he has enough confidence that an easing of monetary policy will keep inflation on its path down to the Fed’s 2% target.

“There is no rush to cut the policy rate,” Waller said in a speech in New York.

But gasoline prices are still far higher than when Biden took control.

Well, Fats Waller, let’s look at other data.

Second, Bank credit growth is finally back in positive territory even though the 10Y-2Y yield curve slope remains negative. So this is a mixed signal.

Third, there is the terrible jobs reports where all jobs created in the US were part-time and full-time jobs declined. Hardly a positive sign for the economy.

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Fourth, on the housing front, the 30-year mortgage rate is up 156% under Biden’s Reign of Error. Rate cuts would be helpful for reducing mortgage rates.

Fifth, commercial real estate. The NBER states that approximately 44% of office loans may have negative equity. They estimate that a 10% to 20% default rate on commercial real estate (CRE) loans, similar to levels seen during the Great Recession, could result in additional bank losses of $80 to $160 billion. They emphasize the impact of interest rates, noting that none of these loans would default if rates returned to early 2022 levels. With around $1 trillion in maturing CRE loans this year, higher interest rates could lead to challenges in refinancing, especially for office spaces facing high vacancy rates and declining valuations.

Finally, we have Citi’s economic surprise index (blue line) which is positive at 30.70 despite The Fed already having raised their target to the highest level since 2000 before the Iraq War/9-11 recession.

So, what’s it going to be? Rate cuts, rate hikes or hold still??

Hey, at least Joe isn’t eating ice cream while driving his gas-guzzling Chevy Corvette.

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