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Fed Standoff : To Shoot or Hold ?

Almost 36 hours left for the next FOMC meeting. The rate swap market is already pricing in a hike with odds of 98.9%. And the same is happening in the economists and analyst community. But given that most FOMC members are estimating two hikes in the balance of four meetings. Can they decide to continue to avoid a hike this time as well?

The core PCE index is lowest since November 2021 and it is the main focal point of the FOMC in deciding the rate trajectory. There can be some room to postpone the hike. Another indicator that they focus on is the unemployment rate which is currently stable at 3.6% but might be due to seeing some upside from recent job cuts that averaged 63000 per month in the last three months.

The other side of the argument is that few members were wanting to hike in the last meeting itself. But will this cause a greater divide in this meeting? That is important to watch.

The resilience in consumer spending is not getting impacted by these hikes as the excess savings are providing a big buffer. But from October onwards repayment of student debt is estimated to cost $100 Bn per month. This might result in excess savings finished by Christmas.

Any rate hikes during the post-summer break would be more effective in impacting consumer-led inflation as it would cause a stronger reduction in non-essential spending.


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