The week ahead is striking in the sheer number of central bank speakers, but with the Fed on hold until December and the BoJ’s new framework now revealed, focus turns squarely from central banks to US politics. The first US presidential debate at the start of the week will be a key focus.
Central banks will take center stage this week, with the Boj and Fed within hours of each other, then also the RBNZ and Norges all delivering policy decisions. Of the four however, the BoJ will likely steal the spotlight, especially as we expect no changes in policy from the other three.
And so another Fed president has decided to call it a day, when moments ago, Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Fed, announced he would step down on February 28, 2017. We are confident the line of (soon to be former) Goldman employees submitting their resumes to fill his slot is already around the block.
Goldman Sachs' estimate of September rate-hike odds continue to collapse faster than Hillary Clinton as the absence of a clear signal from a series of speeches by Fed officials (concluding with Lael Brainard's headfake). Goldman have reduced their subjective odds for a hike next week to 25% from 40% previously (still above market expectations of 13%) but remains hopeful for December. However, as Fed-whisperer WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath warns, Yellen faces record levels of dissent as she "confronts a divided group of policy-makers."
The spotlight turns to US data and Fed speakers ahead of the Fed blackout period this week. The BoE and SNB meet to decide policy but consensus expect no change from either. Elsewhere we get inflation data from the US, UK, Sweden & EZ (F), Q2 GDP from NZ & SW and labor market data from the UK & AU.
First out of the gate among the Fed speakers today (before they go dark) is Dennis Lockhart (non-voter) commenting positively on the economy and jobs, shrugging off the recently terrible ISM data stating "I believe the economy is sustaining sufficient momentum to substantially achieve the committee's monetary policy objectives in an acceptable medium-term time horizon," but questioned inflation still running below mandate.
What analysts out there need to understand, whether they are independent or mainstream, is that a great shift in central bank policy and attitude is coming. Christine Lagarde at the IMF calls it the “economic reset,” some Fed officials, like Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, state that central banks are entering a “brave new world.” These are highly loaded phrases that represent a drastic overhaul of the global financial system; an overhaul that is quite deliberate and inevitably destructive for certain nations and economies, including the U.S.
What happens next may put the past 7 years of simple "financial repression" and central bank failure to shame: in a lunch address by Princeton University economist Christopher Sims, "policymakers were told that it may take a massive program, large enough even to shock taxpayers into a different, inflationary view of the future."
While policymakers have maintained the Fed should eventually reduce its bond holdings, Lockhart said some officials were closer to accepting that they needed to learn to live with them. "I suspect there are colleagues who are contemplating at least maybe a statically large balance sheet is just going to be a fact of life and be central to the toolkit," he said. Most now agree with him.
European stocks are down led by tech, chemicals, alongside EM stocks which retreated from near a one-year high and oil fell for the first time in a week after hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials revived bets on U.S. interest rate rises this year, and pushed the dollar higher from 7 week lows ahead of today's Fed Minutes. S&P 500 futures were little changed following yesterday's drop from record highs
With Wall Street hitting peak vacation season, it is a quiet week for news. The key economic release this week is CPI inflation on Tuesday. There are several scheduled speaking engagements from Fed officials this week. Many will be looking for signs of hawkishness Minutes from the July FOMC meeting will be released on Wednesday.
The Fed is expected to stay on hold today. Given the Fed’s dovish reaction to the weak May employment report, SocGen expects that officials are likely to be reluctant to commit to any particular path just yet (despite the longest streak of economically positive surprise in US history). In the absence of any signal regarding the next hike, attention will fall on their characterization of the economy. Here are five things to watch in the statement...
"It is hard to deny that there seems to be something going on here. It could either be a bored market triggering a momentum trade that feeds the narrative or it could be the market has sniffed out a change of tone from the Fed as these new Fed events get scheduled.... With the Yellen speech not coming until June 6, and the UK Referendum a week after the FOMC, I can’t see much logic to a June hike. Hiking a week before the UK vote seems like a totally unnecessary risk that this extremely risk-averse Fed would never take. But July makes perfect sense if they want to get a hike out of the way before election mania."