After China's shocking currency devaluation, which some more conspiratorially-minded observers have concluded was China's retaliation to the west for the IMF's recent snub that pushed back China's evaluation for inclusion into the SDR to some indefinite point in 2016, the only question on everyone's mind is whether the Fed will delay or outright cancel any imminent "data-dependent" rate hikes as a result of the implicit tightening of monetary conditions thanks to China, and the dramatic appreciation of the USD which would not have taken place without China.
And while we await the first Fed speaker to hit the public circuit since Monday's night's dramatic event, which is Goldman's NY Fed's Bill Dudley speaking in a few minutes, here is what two of the most influential banks have to say on the topic.
First, here is Goldman:
We expect that Fed officials would evaluate the recent news in a similar way. All else equal, the unexpected appreciation of the yuan implies downside risks to inflation and an additional tightening of financial conditions that may affect growth--beyond the effects from the sizable appreciation in the dollar before this week. There could be some potential offsets, such as a healthier Chinese growth outlook and/or lower US interest rates. But on balance, the PBOC action marginally lowers the odds of Fed liftoff in September, in our view, and December liftoff remains our call. The FOMC’s post-meeting statement already indicates that the committee will take into account “readings on financial and international developments,” so we do not think any additional language would be needed at this stage. Fed Chair Yellen’s press conference would be a more natural venue for discussing the dollar’s impact on financial conditions, if this remained a concern at the time of the September 16-17 meeting.
And here is Bank of America:
The timing of Fed liftoff has always been a relatively close call in our view — and with the devaluation of the Chinese yuan this morning, it just got a little closer. A stronger US dollar is both disinflationary and a drag on US growth. While the depreciation of the yuan increases the uncertainty around the upcoming FOMC meetings, at this point it does not lead us to fundamentally shift our expectations for liftoff in September. However, the effects of a stronger USD may well slow the subsequent pace of rate hikes even if they do not delay liftoff. Of course, Fed policy remains data dependent. We thus recommend paying close attention to upcoming speakers to see how they assess the risks to the Fed’s objectives and expected policy path from this regime shift in China.
A stronger dollar is also disinflationary, but Fed officials have been largely unconcerned by weak commodity and import prices to date. The smaller estimated impact on core inflation in the staff’s model — about a 0.1-0.3pp drop following a 10% appreciation — may help explain the Fed’s reaction. We expect a larger and more persistent impact. In addition, Fed officials had cited stabilization of the dollar and energy prices as supporting their view that these disinflationary forces were “transitory.” Today’s market reaction may lead them to reconsider, as stocks, oil prices and inflation expectations all fell. The larger and more sustained these moves, the more likely the FOMC will react.
Today’s events won’t likely impact the incoming data before the September FOMC meeting. Instead, we think that the Fed will need to make a risk assessment: is the greater uncertainty after the Chinese yuan depreciation enough to warrant postponing liftoff? The FOMC also has the option to slow the pace of subsequent hikes, should downside risks be realized. Fed officials will need to weigh these risks against the realized cumulative improvement in the US labor market. The Fed call is now closer than before, but it may take a significant reaction by global markets for the FOMC to stay on hold in September.
Suddenly the case for a rate hike in 2015 looks very, very wobbly. Want proof? Look no further than the DXY which suddenly is not looking all that hot.
So did China get its revenge for the IMF snub? Check back in a few weeks when the CNY is down a further 10%.
And a thought experiment: if the PBOC will intervene to buy CNY after it devalues it just hours prior, will it now intervene to support a suddenly foundering USD?