Here's What Wall Street Is Saying About the Fed and the Economy
"The political environment is undermining what little ammo the Fed has left."
John Roberts, Hilliard Lyons: While equity valuations remain attractive, uncertainty related to government policy, the election, and the "fiscal cliff" is holding back the economy and creating the chance for a pullback in the equity markets, as well as increasing the chance for a recession in 2013, which would vastly change our bullish outlook for the year.
Hank Smith, Haverford Investments: For a number of your questions in this survey it all depends on whether the "fiscal cliff" is averted or not. If the fiscal cliff occurs, the U.S. goes into a recession. If it is avoided (all current tax rates extended for a year and spending sequestration suspended) and comprehensive tax reform is enacted by the spring, our economic growth far exceeds current consensus forecasts.
Diane Swonk, Mesirow Financial: The political environment is undermining what little ammo the Fed has left. That will not stop them, however, from doing what they feel they have to do.
Robert Tipp, Prudential Fixed Income: The QE call for the next Fed meeting is a tough one. The inherent risks of additional QE, combined with the recent decline in Europe-related risk might argue for a 'wait and see' approach. However, it seems more likely that the Fed will take additional steps at this meeting to boost growth, with pushing out the 'low for long' language into 2015 and launching a sterilized Treasury and mortgage buy program. In any case, the subdued economic outlook suggests Treasury yields are likely to remain low and range bound. This will keep yield hungry fixed income investors moving into the spread sectors, including structured products, emerging markets, and both investment grade and high yield corporate bonds, driving their spreads relative to Treasuries down, and boosting their relative performance. Dovish Fed policy is likely to keep downward pressure on the U.S. dollar relative to many emerging and developed market currencies, boosting the returns on foreign bonds. At the nexus of these trends of declining European risk and stronger currencies, bonds of countries like Italy and Spain, uncertainties notwithstanding, may very well post some of the best returns in fixed income over the next few years.
Mark Vitner, Wells Fargo: I do not believe that QE3 will provide much of a boost but the Fed appears to have little alternative and needs to provide some insurance against fiscal risks.
Scott Wren, Wells Fargo Advisors: GDP growth is going to be well below trend this year and next. Unemployment is going to remain high from a historical perspective. The Fed's dual mandate means they are not going to sit on their hands and do nothing. There is plenty of liquidity in the system but you can't force people or businesses to borrow and spend. Once a credit bubble bursts it typically affects economic growth for years....this time will be no different. This is going to take time. We need clarity out of Washington (yes, we unfortunately need to count on our elected officials) on taxes, regulation, and the cost to hire an additional employee before businesses are confident enough to invest for the future. They can't make strategic decisions in this environment.
Clare Zempel, Zempel Strategic: Market monetarism's prescriptions afford the best chance to lift economic growth, reduce unemployment, and create an environment in which fiscal problems become tractable.
-By CNBC's Alex Crippen