Federal Reserve

Fed may be missing 'the big danger here,' says JPMorgan strategist

Key Points
  • The Federal Reserve may be keeping a close eye on inflation as it raises rates, but the gauge it has to watch is asset prices, David Kelly said.
  • The Fed raised interest rates a quarter point on Wednesday, pushing the target range to 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.
Fed raises rates and GDP outlook

As the Federal Reserve gradually increases interest rates, it is keeping a close eye on inflation.

However, JPMorgan chief global strategist David Kelly told CNBC on Wednesday he's getting "increasingly worried" that the central bank is "missing the big danger here."

"We haven't had an inflation problem in 25 years, but we've had a tech bubble, we've had a commodity bubble, we've had a housing bubble. All of those were fueled by too-easy money and all of them resulted in big market corrections or recessions — and one of them the biggest recession we've seen since the Great Depression," he said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

"Inflation's not the enemy. The gauge they've got to watch here [is] asset prices," Kelly added.

As expected, the Fed raised rates a quarter point on Wednesday, pushing the target range to 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent. It also raised its GDP estimate from 2.1 percent in September to 2.5 percent and forecast three rate hikes for 2018.

In a post-meeting news conference, Fed Chair Janet Yellen described continuing low inflation as a concern and a potential risk to policy.

"My colleagues and I continue to believe the factors that are responsible this year for holding inflation down are likely to prove transitory. That said, we all agree our inflation objective is important," she said. The Fed inflation target is 2 percent.

Recession in 2019?

Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners, is anticipating a recession by the end of 2019 or first quarter of 2020.

For one, he's concerned about the amount of corporate debt.

"Economic expansions don't end of old age. They get shot by the Federal Reserve. And as the Fed keeps raising rates, eventually the economy will slow, corporate profits and cash flow will come under pressure and that debt load will be a real issue in the next downturn," he said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

Kelly also sees more risk in 2019, with each successive rate hike hurting the economy more.

"The whole key to this, which I think people have missed, is the first few rate hikes actually helped the economy grow. That's why we haven't seen an ounce of effect in a negative way of the raising of rates so far. But it's going to get worse as you get into 2019," he said.

That said, Kelly thinks 2018 looks pretty good.

"Easy money heats up asset prices. If you're an investor, take advantage of it," he said.


— CNBC's Patti Domm contributed to this report.