James Bullard, President of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, may have inadvertently caused a small stir in the markets on Friday. After Janet Yellen has been speaking about exceptionally low rates continuing, Bullard hinted that the first rate hike in Fed Funds could come by the end of the first quarter of 2015.
While this is just one Fed president, it is a break from the norm and is not what the markets are expecting. In fact, Fed Funds futures at the CME website are currently projecting that there is not a 100% chance of a rate hike priced in until June of 2015. Even then, that is only a 0.25% Fed Funds Rate that is being priced in. It is not until November of 2015 that a 0.50% Fed Funds Rate is priced in with just over a 100% certainty.
Bullard also commented that the housing sector was a concern, but that growth will remain. And while the Fed is closer to its goals, it will likely require 3% GDP growth for the fed to achieve its goals. Bullard even thinks that the natural unemployment rate is now closer to the mid-5% levels.
Bullard’s comments were made in a presentation called “A Tame Taper” at the Arkansas Day with the Commissioner event hosted by the Arkansas Bankers Association on Friday.