The Federal Reserve is meeting on Wednesday. And unless it wants to anger stock and bond investors and US President Donald Trump, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will cut interest rates for the third-straight time.
After that, it’s anybody’s guess.
Unlike the past many months, when the Fed has cut rates to satisfy investors, the Fed will need to become “hyper-dependent” on economic data, according to Danielle DiMartino Booth, CEO of Quill Intelligence and author of “Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve Is Bad for America.”
“The US economy will now become the deciding factor in whether or not the Fed’s hand is forced into easing further,” she said.
DiMartino Booth will discuss this and her outlook for the economy and stocks with CNN Business correspondent Alison Kosik on the “Markets Now” live show Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET.
She is skeptical that the Fed can stave off a recession — even if it continues to cut rates. That’s because of growing signs of weakness in the services sector that powers the US economy.
Which is why DiMartino Booth believes the Fed will pump as much liquidity into the markets as it can to keep the economy and stock market humming along.
“The markets are not happy, they’re euphoric. Despite earnings being on a decline, that is the longest on the postwar era– markets are trading at all time highs,” DiMartino Booth said. “This is all about the Federal Reserve and hopes that…Powell & Co will print as much liquidity as needed to keep the rally and economic expansion alive.”
One more rate cut and then hit the pause button?
But investors should be wary of the stock market’s recent rally, because individual companies’ fundamentals no longer justify their current prices, DiMartino Booth said. Stocks are up mainly on hopes of more help from the Fed,
With sky-high valuations and the Fed unlikely to be able to stave off a recession, DiMartino Booth is not sure the Fed should be lowering rates much further at this point.
DiMartino Booth worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas for nine years as an adviser to former Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher. She is fairly hawkish — meaning that she favors higher rates when necessary.
A rate cut Wednesday would leave the federal funds rate, a short-term rate that influences how much borrowers have to pay for auto loans, credit cards and mortgages, at a relatively low level of 1.5% to 1.75%.
DiMartino Booth said in an interview with Yahoo Finance after the September jobs report that “a fresh 50-year low on the unemployment rate provides plenty of cover to not cut rates.”
The government will report jobs figures for October on Friday and the unemployment rate is expected to edge up just slightly, to 3.6%, That would remain near lows from the late 1960s.
Keep an eye on trade talks and earnings
At a minimum, the Fed will probably keep rates steady for the foreseeable future — even if it pauses after the likely October rate cut. DiMartino Booth wrote in a recent op-ed for Bloomberg that “another leg lower in mortgage rates may be the best that the housing market can hope to sustain momentum” at a time where other signs are pointing to a broader economic slowdown.
John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist with Oppenheimer Asset Management, will also be joining Kosik talking about all this — as well as the lingering concerns about US-China trade tension — on “Markets Now” Wednesday.
Stoltzfus wrote in a report earlier this week that “our expectations are for continued progress in the trade talks notwithstanding some room for episodes of ‘two steps forward, one step back’ in the process.”
He noted that the market has held up “remarkably well” given concerns about weakening economic data abroad. And he’s cautiously optimistic that earnings, which have so far exceeded Wall Street’s gloomy forecasts for the third quarter, will continue to top estimates. But Stoltzfus added that “we’ll keep our fingers crossed and avoid counting our chickens before they hatch.”
“Markets Now” streams live from the New York Stock Exchange every Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET. Hosted by CNN Business correspondents, the 15-minute program features incisive commentary from experts.
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