No Reason for the Fed to Cut Rates this Month



Regular readers of this column may have noticed that the usual twice weekly update reports

have been somewhat erratic over the past fortnight. Well, that’s because I have been

travelling for the past couple of weeks with a good deal of that time spent in the US and its

territories, preceded by a brief on route stop-over in Japan.


I always make it my business to engage with as many people as I can when I am on my

travels and purely from a layman’s point of view what I experienced stateside on this latest

journey was actually quite illuminating.


Firstly, it should be said, that as usual I found all the Americans I spoke with to be equally

engaging and refreshingly cynical and realistic and of course far more interested in rest of

the world than conventional wisdom often gives them credit for. Granted, I wasn’t exactly

conversing with steel workers from the rust belt.


The majority of people I spoke with didn’t seem to care much for Trump, but many seemed

prepared to tolerate him so long as he gets the job done. Ironically he’s the least popular in

his home town and equally so on the west coast- both forever Democrat strongholds of

course. Nevertheless, even the people I met who were fans of the US President didn’t give

me the impression their support was unconditional.


What I really discovered was, without exception no one had an issue with interest rates

where they currently are, and no one I spoke with felt that current Fed policy was out of

line. Even those not at all involved with the financial markets seem to understand perfectly

well that having interest rates too low for too long can be counterproductive. Once again

most of those I talked to were surprisingly well up to speed with the monetary situations in

both Europe and Japan.


What I also learned, and please remember we are talking about conversations with perhaps

two dozen different individuals or groups here; was that the mood over the pond seems still

ebullient and very positive. In terms of numbers here, certainly not enough to be definitive

in any way of course, but nevertheless a good selection people from across the whole

country.


Meanwhile, many in the market still seem to think the Fed is going to take its foot off the

brake pedal at the end of the month. Perhaps the most recent, soothing comments from

the Fed chair last week are continuing to fuel that speculation, but let’s remember two

things; Firstly, the Fed boss is under intense political pressure and secondly, consumer

sentiment.


Signal to business and the real world that the party is over and before you know it the music

will indeed stop. Of course Trump wants his cake, but bombastically slamming the Fed for

‘normalizing’ rates around the current levels is, as Rex Tillerson might have put it- ‘Moronic’.

I know I have made this point many times in previous articles, but it simply has to be

repeated again and especially given all the latest data to hand over the past couple of

weeks, on employment and inflation. Whilst there’s clearly a good reason to pause, there’s

simply no argument for lowering rates yet-unless one is hell bent on getting the dollar lower

and risking yet more bubble territory for stock markets?


Naturally, that’s the way the US president wants it as he simplistically blames the strong

dollar purely on the Fed’s current tightening cycle. However, its not the Fed’s fault that

China is slowing and Europe and Japan haven’t been able to turn off the ‘fan spreader’ yet!

Well, that’s my pennyworth, but anyway come the end of the month when the Fed decides

on monetary policy again, perhaps we shall see just how independent they truly are as an

organization? Personally, I would love to see them prove that, and equally love to see

Trump’s animated reaction to such an outcome, so much so that his hair transplant comes

properly unstuck!


Conversely, the dollar is currently still well glued down, a bit like the Grand Old Duke of

York’s men, neither up nor down. Consequently, more sideways price action to come I

suppose for the USDJPY and EURUSD until we see which way the Fed blows. The Pound is

still caught in the tractor beam of Brexit tail risk and likely to remain what way regardless of

who becomes the next PM. Its high summer of course and the hot money is most definitely

basking in the sunshine on the beach, but as always, keeping one eye out for when the tide

turns.


Data wise this week the latest UK unemployment numbers and German ZEW index will have

been released today before you get to read this so I cannot comment on what reaction they

might deliver. Beyond that, the calendar as a whole this week is pretty light with the latest

US retail sales (1.30pm today) and Australian unemployment numbers (2.30am Thursday)

probably attracting the most attention of all that’s due out.


Oh and anecdotally one piece of advice in case anyone needs it- London black cab drivers

especially take note too. Don’t get stuck on Santa Monica beach without your phone and

UBER app because if you do, and in the absence of kindness from strangers; you’ll be

walking back to Beverly Hills!


Important Economic Releases Due This Week

16/07- 1.30pm US June Advanced Retail Sales

16/07- 6.00pm Fed’s Powell Speech from France

17/07- 9.30am UK June CPI, RPI and PPI Inflation Reports

17/07- 1.30pm Canada June CPI Inflation Report

18/07- 2.30am Australia June Unemployment Report

18/07- 9.30am UK BOE Credit Conditions Report

18/07- 9.30am UK June Retail Sales Report

19/07- 12.30am Japan June CPI Inflation Report

19/07- 3.00pm US University of Michigan July Consumer Sentiment Index

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