The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee met yesterday and held interest rates steady in the 2.25-2.50% range. This wasn’t really a surprise. More significantly, Fed Chair Jerome Powell kept up the dovish rhetoric, saying, “The case for rate increases has diminished. I would need to see a reason for further rate hikes that would have to include higher inflation.”
We’ve called this the Powell Put, and it appears it’s still solidly in play. But in his most recent podcast, Peter Schiff called it the “Powell Pause” and said it wasn’t going to be enough.
US stock markets had a strong week last week. The Dow Jones capped it off gaining more than 300 points on Friday.
Optimism about a trade deal with China along with increasing expectations that the Federal Reserve will slow the pace of interest rate hikes buoyed the markets.
This has led many pundits to declare that the correction is over. Some have even declared its a new bull market. In his latest podcast, Peter Schiff said that’s not what’s happening at all. What we’re seeing is a typical bear market correction and a recession is right around the corner.
Stock markets appear to have stabilized after a “December to remember.” But in his most recent podcast, Peter Schiff said we’re really just in the eye of a financial hurricane.
The selloff began after the September Fed rate hike. At the time, Peter called it the hike that broke the camel’s back. The market plunged in October and Wall Street ended up having its worst December since 1931. But over the last few weeks, things have calmed as we entered the eye of the storm.
The Federal Reserve released minutes from the December Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday and it looks like the “Powell Put” might be in.
The minutes revealed a much more dovish sounding Fed as we move into 2019. Members of the FOMC indicated they could be “patient” with future rate hikes and said the future path of the central bank’s monetary policy is “less clear.”
What is clear is that Powell and company seem to be getting cold feet when it comes to continuing on an aggressive tightening policy. The question is why?
Last week, we saw more huge swings in US stock markets. On Thursday, stocks fell sharply, but they recaptured all the losses on Friday in the wake optimism about trade talks between the US and China, of a strong December jobs report, and “dovish” comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
Peter Schiff hit on all of these topics in his most recent podcast.
As expected, the Federal Reserve nudged interest rates up another 25 basis points to 2.5% during its December meeting this week. It also scaled back its projected hikes in 2019 from three to two.
Peter Schiff said Jerome Powell and company just stuck a fork in the stock market.