"The Fed Is About To Make A Massive Mistake" Saxobank's Jakobsen Warns

Steen Jakobsen, chief economist and CIO of Saxo Bank, says the US Federal Reserve is on the verge of making a mistake about its projected rate hikes. The Fed has given itself the option of hiking interest rates at its June meeting; but Jakobsen says he is sceptical about the proposals, arguing that the Fed is taking the recent improvement in US economic data as an uptick in overall momentum. Jakobsen says the economy is still performing significantly below its potential, but thinks the Fed wants to hike interest rates now so it can lower them at a later date.




Surprises are expectations which are not met. CESIUSD is the Citi Economic Surprise Index which measures data surprises relative to market expectations.
According to Bloomberg, FOMC vice-Chairman William Dudley said Thursday:
“Data releases that are close to our expectations have little additional impact on the forecast, while data releases that deviate significantly from our expectations can lead to more         significant revisions of the forecast,” adding that "It is, therefore, important for market participants and households to be able to follow the data along with the FOMC and to understand how we are likely to interpret and react to incoming data."
Ok, so actually CESIUSD Index is a perfect measurement of Federal Reserve from here out. The problem?
CESIUSD – the Surprise Index is almost perfectly mean-reverting around zero. This is an issue because right now… it’s at a low.. meaning even without doing great, the US economy has a very good chance of improving relative to expectations……!!!!! I.e.: Not to true picture of overall economy but vis-à-vis present situation…..


Source: Bloomberg
Bloomberg has its own similar index, the ECSURPUS – it does not look very different.


Source: Bloomberg   
The “positive” being Atlanta Fed GDPNow forecast which has increased. But it often comes down hard as a quarter grows old (look at March drop for Q1).

Atlanta Fed GDPnow

Source: Bloomberg 
Finally, Fed NYnow cast is less “impressive so far..” 

Fed NY nowcast

I still think the Fed is about to make a massive mistake taking mean-reverting improving data as a precursor for net change in overall momentum – while what is really happening is that the US economy is improving from recession-bound growth (and productivity) to less than escape velocity.
I firmly believe the Fed’s hawkish tilt will be almost as short as the July/August 2015 announced hike in September 2015.

Fading the Fed is still overall the game, but as above, indicates there is a risk that the Fed will be desperate to continue normalization, making June a likely date for a July hike.