Are The Fed voting members REALLY hawks? Or doves? Or just Birds of War?
(Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates four times this year and will start its balance sheet runoff process in July, if not earlier, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Rapid progress in the U.S. labor market and hawkish signals in minutes from the Dec. 14-15 Federal Open Market Committee suggest faster normalization, Goldman’s Jan Hatzius said in a research note.
“We are therefore pulling forward our runoff forecast from December to July, with risks tilted to the even earlier side,” Hatzius said. “With inflation probably still far above target at that point, we no longer think that the start to runoff will substitute for a quarterly rate hike. We continue to see hikes in March, June, and September, and have now added a hike in December.”
In its December meeting minutes, Fed officials signaled they are preparing to move quicker than the last time they tightened monetary policy in a bid to keep the U.S. economy from overheating amid high inflation and near-full employment. These conditions — along with a larger balance sheet that’s suppressing longer-term borrowing costs — “could warrant a potentially faster pace of policy rate normalization,” the minutes said.
Officials also saw the timing of reducing the $8.8 trillion balance sheet as likely “closer to that of policy-rate liftoff than in the committee’s previous experience,” according to the minutes.
While Goldman sees 4 rate hikes in 2022, The Fed Funds Futures market only sees 3 rate hikes and the Fed Funds target rates hitting 1% by Feb 2023.
An increase to 1%? The Fed Funds target rate hit 5.25% during the housing bubble in 2006/2007 and markets are worried about an increase to 1%??
So, Goldman thinks that there will be faster “run-off” than expected. This simply means that The Fed will allow Treasuries and Agency MBS to mature rather than actually sell securities.
With the expectation of Fed activity, z-scores for Treasuries are negative across the board.
So we shall see if The Fed Open Market Committee are hawks, doves or “birds of war.”