Another possible step would be to reduce short-term interest rates below zero if needed to provide additional accommodation... Could negative interest rates be a policy response that the Federal Reserve could choose to employ in a future crisis? ... these are transitional problems, but they might be sufficient to make a move to negative rates difficult to implement on short notice.
We believe the Credit Cycle has turned and with it will come some massive unexpected shocks. One of these will be the fall out in the Bond Market, centered around the dramatic growth explosion in Bond ETFs coupled with the post financial crisis regulatory changes that effectively removed banks from making markets in corporate bonds. It is a ‘Witch’s Brew’ with a flattening yield curve bringing it to a boil.
The prospect that the leaders of our monetary politburo are about to be tarred and feathered by economic reality might be satisfying enough if it led to the repudiation of Keynesian central planning and a thorough housecleaning at the Fed. Unfortunately, it will also mean that tens of millions of retail investors and 401k holders will be taken to the slaughterhouse for the third time this century. And this time the Fed is out of dry powder, meaning retail investors will never recover as they did after 2002 and 2009.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, keep trying again and again. That appears to be the mantra of Goldman's credit strategists.
My overriding theme and the central drama for the coming year is that unexpected events can take on greater importance as the Federal Reserve ends its near-decade-long Zero Interest Rate Policy. Consensus premises and forecasts will likely fall flat, in a rather spectacular manner. The low-conviction and directionless market that we saw in 2015 could become a no-conviction and very-much-directed market (i.e. one that's directed lower) in 2016. There will be no peace on earth in 2016, and our markets could lose a cushion of protection as valuations contract. (Just as "malinvestment" represented a key theme this year, we expect a compression of price-to-earnings ratios to serve as a big market driver in 2016.) In other words, we don't think 2016 will be fun.
It becomes ever more tempting to conclude that the timing of the Fed’s rate hike was really quite odd, even from the perspective of the planners...
The Fed seems to have been operating on the theory that their own views on the economy determine its path. But recently the Fed has taken the principle to an extreme never seen. Yellen may well have just hiked rates expecting, hoping, that the mere act of showing confidence in the economy would produce an economy worthy of confidence. The Fed has dominated the narrative for years now, investors and traders hanging on every word. Last week that started to change, the market repudiating the Fed’s outlook over a 48 hour period that must have produced some second guessing at the Fed.
And so Wall Street has set its sights on the next junk bond fund casualty, a name which is well-known to most equity market participants: none other than Waddell and Reed (WDR), the fund which rose to infamy in the aftermath of the May 2010 Flash Crash, after it was initially blamed by the SEC as the culprit behind the Dow's 1000 point crash...
“To the intelligent man or woman, life appears infinitely mysterious, but the stupid have an answer for everything.” ~Edward Abbey
Perhaps in a recognition of the collapsing yield curve, and for sure in the face of the mainstream's bullish narrative on US banks in a post-rate-hike paradigm, Citi has announced plans to cut at least 2,000 jobs starting next month. Despite exuberance over higher rates, it appears Citi's CEO Michael Corbat wants to restructure some of the bank’s businesses.
Yellen and her cohort have no clue, however, that all of their massive money printing never really left the canyons of Wall Street, but instead inflated the mother of all financial bubbles. So they are fixing to blow-up the joint for the third time this century. That was plain as day when our Keynesian school marm insisted that the Third Avenue credit fund failure this past week was a one-off event - a lone rotten apple in the barrel. Now that is the ultimate in cluelessness.
The Fed hiked... and the Treasury market threw up all over it, flattening the curve over 10bps in the last 16 hours (to 9 month lows). The reaction screams "policy error" as rate cut odds for January remain above rate-hike odds. Financials - who will benefit greatly from this rate hike if all the talking heads are to be believed - appears not to have got the flattening curve joke yet.
At 2 p.m. EST, the only thing the financial world will care about and discuss will be the Fed's [first rate hike in 9 years|epic disappointment]. So for those who still haven't made up their mind about what the Fed's [dovish|non-dovish] rate hike means, here is all you need to know.