FOMC preview

My guess is the GDP forecast the Fed is now getting from it’s staff is not a downgrade from previous forecasts, and may even be an upgrade due to:

  • The blowout durable goods numbers
  • The drops in claims following the high unemployment number
  • The private forecasts on average show 65,000 new jobs and unemployment falling to 4.9 on Friday
  • Anecdotal reports from big cap old line corps show no recession in sight
  • But still data dependent with ADP, GDP, and deflator tomorrow am

Yes, it has been about domestic demand, but they now realize exports have taken up the slack and are holding up employment and real gdp, as well as contributing to inflation.

Staff inflation report will show deterioration of both headline CPI and core measures, along with tips fwd breakevens moving higher and survey info showing elevating prices paid and received. And food/fuel/import and export prices all trending higher, risking core converging to headline CPI.

Higher crude prices are now attributed to higher US demand by the markets and the Fed.

Many ‘financial conditions’ have eased:

  • LIBOR has come down over 150 bp since the Dec 18 meeting even as FF are down only 75. mtg rates way down as well, and at very low levels.
  • Commercial mortgage rates somewhat higher, but from very low levels previously
  • Equities have firmed up since the soc gen liquidations (and look very cheap to me)

The last bit of system risk is from a downgrade of the monolines and that risk seems to be diminishing.

The ratings agencies have been reviewing them intensely for 6 months, and both the capital of the monolines and the credit quality of the insured bonds must still be adequate for the AAA rating. And in any case the risk is to go to AA, not to junk, meaning that credit per se isn’t the issue at all. The issue is forced selling by those who can’t legally hold insured bonds if the rating drops. That’s a very different issue.

Wouldn’t surprise me that if tomorrows numbers are as expected, and the fed cuts 50, markets start to look at that as possibly the last move, and reprice accordingly, with FF futures trading closer to a 3% trough than a 2% trough.

An unchanged decision may also result in a near 3% FF futures trough, with a couple of 25 cuts priced in.