Perspectives Blog

Neutral funds rate going up?

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | May 16, 2014

The idea of low neutral funds rate has surprising currency, but could erode with more evidence of solid growth. We believe incoming information suggests the neutral funds rate would be moving higher, not lower. We see neutral funds rate at 3.75-4.00%, which implies an overvalued Treasury market. The hottest topic in the bond market at the moment is the idea that the “neutral funds rate”—where the Fed will rest short-term interest rates when th…

Gaps, not growth

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | February 25, 2014

Monetary policy is primarily about “gaps” not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se. Despite concerns over cyclical weakness in labor force participation, the unemployment rate is sending similar signals as most other output gap proxies. The output gap improved despite a relatively slow expansion, suggesting weak potential growth. While it’s far too soon to revise any medium…

U.S. rates — Data dependence

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | June 23, 2014

Evidence of data dependency at the June FOMC meeting suggests policy will respond to unemployment and inflation surprises. We are more confident the Fed’s reaction function is (nearly) done moving. We therefore remain cautious about exposure to U.S. interest rate risk, especially at the middle of the yield curve. The June FOMC meeting contained a little bit for everyone and interest rates reacted only marginally after the announcements. But lo…

U.S. rates – Headwinds

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | March 17, 2014

At this week’s meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee looks likely to rework its forward guidance for short-term interest rates once again. We expect revised forward guidance to lean heavily on the idea of “headwinds”; this is a stand-in term for a low equilibrium real rate. We expect that the new guidance will make three main points: (1) that the FOMC is in no hurry to raise rates, (2) that rate hikes can proceed gradually once…

What investors should know about Fed forward guidance

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | March 24, 2014

The Fed’s communication for 2014 looks like the strongest type of forward guidance, one that clarifies the existing policy approach and backs up its statements. Current statements for 2015 and beyond are closer to the weakest type of forward guidance, which means they should be considered less credible. Look for the market’s heavy reliance on Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) forecasts to fade over time. Last week, at Janet Yellen’s first…

U.S. rates – An intriguing six point three

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | June 9, 2014

Fed and consensus unemployment forecasts are likely to come down after last week’s jobs report. It is not obvious what lower unemployment rate forecasts mean for U.S. monetary policy. June FOMC meeting should shed light on Fed’s worldview—in particular, whether the U3 unemployment rate still matters. The latest jobs report may look pretty bland on the surface, but I can assure you that it will generate plenty of intrigue among close observers…

Volatility and Goodhart’s Law

Zach Pandl, Portfolio Manager and Strategist | May 21, 2014

Markets are starting to make understandable inference that Fed officials see a fixed timeline for rate hikes. Implied volatility is low because perceived policy uncertainty is low. We remain focused on modest slack and sturdy growth. Recent Fed communication brings to mind Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” In a speech Tuesday, New York Fed President Dudley noted that Eurodollar futures are prici…