There are two good reasons: First, the Fed needs to show the financial world that they are consistent in their "data-dependent" stance (perfect data do not exist in this world).
Second, to paraphrase Paul McCulley, for Janet Yellen to take a victory lap.
The hardest pill for us to swallow is the waiting game.
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Let's understand that we have never been in a zero interest-rate environment like we are now and any move by the Fed from these historically low levels would be … well, historic! But the moves will certainly be slow and gradual with no drastic surprises. Let's keep in mind that the market has traded in a counterintuitive manner for the last seven years and a dogmatic approach to the end of ZIRP (zero interest-rate policy) would be shortsighted. With strong numbers coming from the housing sector, coupled with solid, consistent job creation over the past few months, the time has come for Janet Yellen and company to finally make their move and raise rates.
When quantitative easing was introduced to the United States, the unanimous consensus among market observers was that it would end badly. The final result was thought to be the debasing of our currency and runaway commodity inflation. Brilliant central bank watchers became "soothsayers of doom," warning of the impending disaster created by such reckless monetary actions.
Neither inflation nor dollar debasement became a reality and the fears generated by those worried about an expanding balance sheet have all but disappeared. Guess what? The Fed was right.
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One thing we must be reminded of is that the Fed has a dual mandate. Not only must they be concerned about the prospects of inflationary or deflationary pressure but they need to be the vanguard of growth for the entire economy. In a business climate which fosters over-regulation, tax ambiguity, hints of protectionism and the total lack of pro-growth policies out of the congress, this dual mandate becomes a heavy burden. To borrow an old Armenian saying, the Fed has pulled a two-horse wagon alone. And it has done a magnificent job.
There are some very good things that have happened because of ZIRP over the last few years. Aside from saving the housing market and the banking system, the zero interest rate environment has allowed corporate America to refinance its collective balance sheets using the historic low rates to become stronger than ever. When the Fed starts to move rates higher, it will be for the right reason. Growth will be approaching a level which comforts the doves and would signal the start of interest rate normalcy, thus making hawks ecstatic!
The minutes of July's Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed that the combination of a strong dollar and velocity of the move in crude forced the Fed to hold off longer than they probably wanted, but the time has now come for the Fed to make the first move. It will very likely be followed by another long pause but, finally, the wait will have ended. As those who are long and convinced it's a Fed-driven rally, run for the exit, those who are wise enough to understand market structure will find the next leg of the move higher in equities.
Remember, bull markets don't end because the central bank starts to raise rates — they end when the central bank stops raising rates.
Commentary by Jack Bouroudjian, CEO of Index Futures Group LLC, a registered independent broker, and CIO of Index Capital Partners, a registered commodity-pool operator. He was also a three-term director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and founder and advisor of UCX (Universal Compute Exchange). Follow him on Twitter@JackBouroudjian.
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