Cashin: Comments from Fed's Lacker ‘hit me like a 2-by-4’
Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services, told CNBC on Friday that several under-the-radar comments from the Federal Reserve on Thursday created anxiety in the market and investors shouldn't overlook the implications of what was said.
"I think when it looked like we were going to hit the pause button [on Syria], markets began to react ... oil eased back down, gold eased back down, you didn't see any major flight to safety in Treasurys," he said on "Squawk on the Street", but investors must still read the tea leaves and "connect the dots" between disparate markets, because Syria is not the sole explanation.
The important event that created anxiety in markets Thursday—which many may have missed—was comments from Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker. "While it didn't get wide coverage, he said some really important things," Cashin explained, including Lacker's opinion that the labor market has met the condition for the Fed to begin a tapering of its asset purchases.
(Related: Ignore the noise, the taper is still coming)
What is "far more important," Cashin said, is that Lacker suggested that the taper would coincide with a reduction of the Fed's support of the mortgage-backed securities market. "With housing looking like it might be getting weak, that troubled the market."
However, Cashin said that the comment that "hit me over the head like a two-by-four" was Lacker's view of future U.S. GDP growth. The Fed president told reporters after a speech in Newport News, Va., that he expects that growth will average "about 2 percent going forward."
This level is "just above stall speed," Cashin said. "It's going to be dangerous to start tapering if you're just above stall speed."
In addition, the overall response from Fed governors to troubles in emerging markets has failed to reassure markets, he added. His opinion is that the response has essentially been "that's their problem" and "that's why we're a little volatile."