Bullard Tries To Pull Back Rate Cut Expectations

A couple of quick items tonight.

First, yesterday’s Bloomberg Opinion column:

Financial markets met Tuesday’s emergency interest-rate cut with a fresh wave of equity selling and bond buying. This probably wasn’t the reaction Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was hoping for. Did the central bank just make things worse? This probably isn’t the right way to think about the current situation…

Second, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard tried to throw some cold water on rate cut expectations. Via Bloomberg:

“It’s unlikely we are going to have that much different of information when we get to the March meeting,” he said Wednesday. “I am not sure you should put a lot of weight on the March meeting right now.”

Bullard is saying that we got the March rate cut early and we should be happy about that and not expect something more. I wouldn’t take too much stock in Bullard. Clearly, it doesn’t take much imagination to see another wave of bad news coming down the pipeline in the next couple of weeks. The number of Covid-19 cases are certainly go to rise, there will be school and workplace closures, etc. Travel and tourism will certainly be impacted. That said, we should be on the watch for similar comments by other Fed speakers. I think such comments would be injudicious given the evolving situation.

Third, a refinancing boom is underway, also via Bloomberg:

A drop in interest rates in response to the coronavirus outbreak is adding urgency to a hiring spree across the mortgage industry.

Executives at four of the nation’s 15 biggest mortgage lenders, already gearing up for a busy 2020, anticipate hiring thousands of employees this year to keep up with what they expect to be a flood of demand for purchase loans and refinancings.

Refinancing will help support consumption and lower rates will support the housing market in general. A bit of economic good news amongst the gloom.

That’s it for tonight!