Powell noticed some crosscurrents in the path of the US economy. Will it stay on the surface? And is gold a good swimmer?
Crosscurrents Cause Fewer Hikes
We hope that you enjoyed Christmas. As we promised last week, we will analyze the post-meeting Powell’s press conference today.
The Fed Chair remained optimistic about the US economy, which “has
continued to perform well.” However, “some crosscurrents have emerged.” Powell
meant the moderation of global growth, increased financial market
volatility, and tightened financial conditions. As a consequence, the Fed now sees only two instead of three hikes in 2019:
FOMC participants had expected that economic conditions would likely
call for about three more rate increases in 2019. We have brought that
down a bit and now think it is more likely that the economy will grow in
a way that will call for two interest rate increases over the course of
Well, it seems that either Powell feared Trump’s anger or he followed Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen, and introduced its own put, after all. Trump and Wall Street 1:0 Powell and Co.
Have You Shifted Tone, Mr. Powell?
When it comes to the Q&S session, the journalists touched on interesting issues. A few of them were about still subdued inflation
despite strong economic growth and low unemployment rate. The funny
thing is that the Fed undershot its inflation target for the seventh
year straight. Unfortunately, Powell dodged the question, but he sent
another dovish signal, saying that “So, I do think that gives the Committee the ability to be patient in moving forward.” Excellent, gold adores patience, it’s eternal asset.
fascinating set of questions was about the neutral interest rate. One
journalist pointed out that in October, Powell said that interest rates
were a long way from neutral. While a month later, he argued that interest rates were just below
neutral. Again, Powell did not actually explained the reasons for that
change. Moreover, he modified his stance again, saying that “we’re at the lower end of the range of neutral”. Another month, another change!
it’s a strange statement. We, of course, do not know what models Powell
uses. But please take a look at the heatmap of the Taylor rule prescriptions for the federal funds rate below. It was prepared by the Atlanta Fed.
one can see, no measure of the neutral interest rate (each row reflects
different method of estimating r*) places the Fed at the lower end of
the range of neutral. So, according to the Fed’s own estimations, and
contrary to Powell’s remarks, the US monetary policy is still accommodative. It’s good news for the gold market.
Implications for Gold
Powell’s press conference was rather dovish. Although he tried to
assure that the recent development “have not fundamentally altered the
outlook”, the FOMC
slashed its projected number of hikes from 3 to 2 next year. Moreover,
although it contradicts the Atlanta Fed’s models, Powell claimed that
the federal funds rate had actually achieved the range of neutral rate.
If the interest rates are within that range – while inflation is
subdued, and economic growth is slowing down, so there is no need to be
restrictive – it means that the Fed is behind the peak of its tightening cycle.
From the fundamental point of view, it is a positive change for the gold market. Less aggressive Fed means weaker support for the US dollar. If we add the possibility that the ECB will finally raise its interest rates in the second half of 2019, it turns out that gold may perform better next year.
2019 will be very interesting. For example, please remember that there
will be press conference for each FOMC meeting. In the January edition
of the Market Overview, we will elaborate on 2019 outlook for the gold
market. Stay tuned – and Happy New Year!
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Please note that the aim of the above analysis is to discuss the likely
long-term impact of the featured phenomenon on the price of gold and
this analysis does not indicate (nor does it aim to do so) whether gold
is likely to move higher or lower in the short- or medium term. In order
to determine the latter, many additional factors need to be considered
(i.e. sentiment, chart patterns, cycles, indicators, ratios,
self-similar patterns and more) and we are taking them into account (and
discussing the short- and medium-term outlook) in our trading alerts.
Arkadiusz Sieron, Ph.D.
Sunshine Profits‘ Gold News Monitor and Market Overview Editor
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