4 Economists Offer Views on December Rate Hike Odds and Fallout

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If you read through the FOMC statement on its decision not to hike interest rates on November 2, 2016, the use of ‘moderate’ and ‘modest’ was used less than before and the Federal Reserve also increased its inflation expectations while talking up the economy. In short, a FOMC rate hike continues to look likely for a pre-Christmas present in December.

24/7 Wall St. wanted to gather up outside views from economists on the matter of a December rate hike odds.

The CME’s FedWatch Tool now shows that the target rate of 0.50% to 0.75% now comes with a current probability of 71.5% — up from the prior day’s 68.4% probability. Here are some outside economic and research teams have decided to cover the Fed rate hike probabilities ahead.

Merrill Lynch’s Rates & FX Global Economics said:

The FOMC tweaked the statement to signal comfort with a near-term hike, reinforcing our expectation of a December hike. The FOMC noted that inflation has trended higher and that the case for an increase in rates has strengthened. The market reaction was muted with little move in currencies and a slight gain in rates.

Chief Economist at Stifel Fixed Income, Lindsey Piegza, gave her insight into the FOMC announcement today. Her take is that the Fed positioned itself to continue with a removal of accommodation in December, but perhaps just for one rate hike per year. Piegza said:

The Fed appears increasingly optimistic regarding the pace of expansion in the second half of the year, despite extreme weakness early on, particularly on the inflation side as market-based measures of inflation compensation have “moved up.”  While a move in December was not explicitly communicated, the Fed has been talking up a near-term rate increase with gusto amid perceived “improvement” in the U.S. economy, a positive assessment reiterated in today’s statement language noting the case for a rate hike has “continued to strengthen.”

Chief Market Strategist Brett Ewing of First Franklin said:

The last gasp for monetary doves may come from a very predictable source—a presidential election with less than desirable candidates… We reiterate that regardless of the presidential outcome, fiscal spending is here and inflation is coming, further evidenced by the month of October being the worst for global bonds in over three years… While it is unlikely, it isn’t hard to see a situation where the stock market sells off into and out of a murky and unpopular election, which would give Fed officials yet another chance to do what they prefer to do and avoid raising rates yet again in December.

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Canaccord Genuity’s equity strategist upgraded his outlook for U.S. equities to Positive from Neutral. The view on the Fed is that Fed policy is driven by core inflation, which should remain historically low. This gives the Fed time to take a much more patient trajectory of rate hikes. Their report was more about equities than the Fed, but the report summary said:

In a market driven by quants, unpredictable sector rotation, and macro, we believe the best way to generate significant and sustainable alpha is to become more aggressive during periods of pronounced weakness in the context of a positive economic backdrop. When we downgraded our view to neutral in mid-July, there had been a historic move off the early year low, the market had hit our 2016 SPX target of 2,175, and we felt there was a bit too much optimism. Today we face a difficult domestic election environment, Italian referendum, and likely December Fed rate hike. While it is true the market doesn’t like uncertainty, we believe active investors should because that is when opportunity presents itself. Given the tendency of fear to increase as the market corrects, one must be convinced the fundamental, tactical, and historical backdrop is favorable as prices go against you.