Federal Reserve

Has the Fed lost markets’ confidence?


Traders are starting to doubt the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed)'s command of monetary policy, according to Societe Generale's famously pessimistic strategist, Albert Edwards.

There is "increasing evidence of a loss of confidence that the Fed is actually in control", after its rate-setting committee, led by Chair Janet Yellen, seemed to brush aside concerns about deflation by choosing not to raise interest rates at its September meeting, Edwards argued in a research note.

Janet Yellen
Mary Schwalm | Reuters

Yellen cited concerns about instability elsewhere in the world when she spoke about her decision. The Fed has since been criticized for assigning too much importance to market turmoil elsewhere, rather than focusing on the U.S. domestic economy, when making its call. There have also been concerns that uncertainty of when rate rises will happen is now more of a drag on stock markets than a small rate rise, which has been long expected, would be.

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Edwards points to "the continuing slide in U.S. break-even inflation expectations" in the bond market as a clear sign that bond market traders, at least, do not "believe the Fed is in control any more." U.S. bonds due for repayments in five years are now below their January low and are now only 20 basis points above the euro zone, despite an apparently healthier U.S. economy.

Edwards drew comparisons between the U.S. at the moment and Japan in 1995 – when the surging value of the yen made exports for Japanese businesses extremely difficult.

The strategist, who is well-known for his uber-bearish predictions, added: "All this money printing will ultimately end in tears."

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