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BlackRock's Rieder says Fed shouldn't be too concerned about low inflation

Key Points
  • BlackRock's global fixed income CIO says the Fed is too focused on inflation, and that will be the big market focus of Wednesday's Fed statement and briefing.
  • Rick Rieder also says the Fed may discuss cutting interest rates, but it will not do so and the next move will more likely be a hike.
Rick Rieder
Olivia Michael | CNBC

BlackRock's Rick Rieder said Wednesday the Fed is unnecessarily concerned about low inflation and is more likely to raise interest rates before it cuts them.

Rieder, BlackRock's global CIO of fixed income, said the way the Fed discusses weaker inflation Wednesday afternoon following its two-day meeting could impact markets. The futures market is pricing in a partial rate hike for 2019, and some investors believe the Fed could have an "insurance" interest rate cut later in the year to make sure the economy doesn't lose traction.

"I don't agree," said Rieder. "I still think there's a possibility they get one more rate hike in. But I just think they're not going to do anything for an extended period of time, and I don't think they need to."

"I think this is Goldilocks for the Fed. I think they can go away," he said.

The Fed releases its statement at 2 p.m. ET,  just ahead of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's press briefing at 2:30 p.m. ET.

"I think the key is how much they downgrade inflation. I think the press conference is important. I think the statement is important. I also think this event on Friday is important in terms of how they're thinking about where inflation is relative to growth," said Rieder, referring to a Hoover Institution conference Friday, where Fed policy will be discussed.

Some market pros are hoping to hear more details from Powell on how worried the Fed is about the lack of inflation and at what point it would consider cutting interest rates.

Rieder said he does not believe inflation measures have the same meaning they once did. "We live in an environment where core goods are going to deflate, just because of where technology and globalization have moved to," he said.

Instead, he believes the Fed should track GDP.

"They should target nominal GDP," he said, noting that first-quarter real GDP was 3.2% and core inflation was 1.6%. "If you're running at a nominal GDP that is above trend with inflation staying low, it's terrific for the population at large. The whole concept of you having to drive inflation higher, why? As long as GDP is buoyant and it is."

As for the rates outlook, Rieder said he believes the 10-year Treasury yield will be locked in a range for a longer period of time.

"I could see the 10-year moving back to 2.65, 2.70," he said. But with the easy policy of other global central banks, like the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, long-end rates should not move much higher.

"I don't think you'll see 3% 10-year this year. One of the things that would have to drive it is global growth would have to pick up more," he said.

Rieder, who is also lead portfolio manager for BlackRock's Global Allocation Fund, the firm's largest mutual fund, sees a good environment now for stocks.

"I think equities are going to [be] higher. I think you have a dynamic now if you keep the discount rate on hold, the Fed has functionally given global guidance. With growth picking up and the equity buybacks are still high, what people are beginning to realize is there aren't enough financial assets in the world relative to demand," he said. As long as rates stay stable, he said stocks should go higher.