Fed Thoughts: The House on the Hill

This is the first in an occasional series offering perspective on challenges to the setting of Federal Reserve policy that are especially relevant to fixed-income investors. And currently challenges abound, some of which have been magnified by Fed officials’ incomplete and unsatisfying explanations for their stop-and-go tightening tries since last September. Reining in their hiking intentions is not necessarily inappropriate, but blaming others—a weakening in the global outlook—for doing so is. A more satisfactory explanation is that they learned in December that the response to their policy action in financial markets might be outsized. When such uncertainty increases, a prudent central bank tempers (or attenuates as it is described in the trade) its policy plans. We think that the Fed is following, if not verbalizing, this framework and expect two quarter-point hikes in 2016. The timing is harder to tell, as the UK referendum intrudes upon evenly-spaced moves, but that problem is not insurmountable.

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