The Fed again declined to raise the Fed Funds Rate (FFR%) today. Maybe by Dec. '17 they will put
25 basis points on. There is only modest inflation thrust now and hurricane damage will be a
temporary drag on the real economy. The Fed has also been watching the economy work off very
large excess inventories dating back a couple of years. This cycle will have to run its course before
commercial loan demand finally begins to re-accelerate. Businesses are being a bit more circumspect
with their inventory policies so far this year.
Quantitative Tightening (QT)
The process of shrinking the Fed's balance sheet and the excess reserves in the banking system
is scheduled to start in Oct. with $30 bil. monthly roll-offs and sales. The shrinking
process could accelerate to $50 billion month as early as some point next year. To get back to
"normal" the Fed will need to have about $2.5 tril. in securities on its balance sheet by late 2020.
If the Fed shrinks its balance sheet by $50 bil. a month, there will still be sizable excess banking
reserves in the system. After 2020, the Fed will have to get more careful with this QT program
so as not to leave the banking system short handed. This assumes that QT works in practice as
well as it does in theory. Risky business? Mais oui!
The Fed has presumably thoroughly studied the liquidity requirements of both the Treasury
and agency markets and has set parameters for when it may have to intervene short term in
the markets as well as whether there may be a sizable increase in daylight overdrafts. Theory
says things may operate smoothly, but in practice there may be spooky short term liquidity
squeezes. Will the markets begin to price in special squeeze risk premiums and could there
be disruptions to the derivatives markets? It may be wise to expect both in the early going.
- Peter Richardson
- Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!