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Traders Hope the Fed Will Raise and Hold Interest Rates

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Dec 5, 2022

Financial markets traders are wary about whether the Federal Reserve Board can raise interest rates high enough to curtail inflation while not crashing the economy—a strategy known as “raise and hold,” Reuters reported.

The idea is to let the effects of the higher rates cause a slowdown in borrowing, which would cool the hot labor market and bring down prices. Based on futures contracts, traders who once foresaw the Fed raising rates to about 5 percent by last May now see the central bank bringing rates to the 4.25 to 4.5 percent range by the end of 2023.

Many economists predict a rise in the employment rate from its current 3.7 percent to 1 percent higher, which is seen as a sign of a recession.

“I don't think the Fed will be comfortable cutting rates until unemployment gets close to 5 percent, or inflation declines south of 3 percent,” said economist Aneta Markowska, an economist at  Jefferies, an investment banking and capital markets firm. “Those conditions are unlikely to be met until 2024.”

New York Fed President John Williams told the Economic Club of New York last week that the U.S. unemployment rate will likely rise to between 4.5 and 5 percent by the end of next year. As for interest rates, “I do see a point probably in 2024 that we'll start bringing down nominal interest rates because inflation is coming down,” he said, Reuters reported.

Williams is vice chair of the Fed’s Open Market Committee, whose next meeting will take place on Dec. 13 and 14.

“We anticipate that ongoing increases will be appropriate,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a speech at the Brookings Institution last week. “It seems to me likely that the ultimate level of rates will need to be somewhat higher than thought at the time of the September meeting and Summary of Economic Projections.”