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Don't assume a rate cut is coming this month, says former Fed official

Key Points
  • The U.S. market may be getting ahead of itself in predicting a rate cut from the Federal Reserve, former Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher says.
  • Markets are interpreting Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's speech earlier in the day as an indication another cut is coming this month.
  • "I don't think there's any indication whatsoever as to which way they're likely to go," Fisher says.
Richard Fisher, former President of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The U.S. market may be getting ahead of itself in predicting a rate cut from the Federal Reserve, a former Dallas Fed president told CNBC on Friday.

Richard Fisher, who served as president and CEO from 2005 to 2015, spoke with "Closing Bell" shortly after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell spoke in Zurich.

"I used to always feel that when the Fed chairman made an announcement, or we made a decision, it was like a sacrificial ceremony," Fisher said. "The markets slash you open, try to read the entrails, try to infer what they want to hear or what they're worried about hearing."

The Federal Open Market Committee in July cut the central bank's benchmark overnight lending rate by 0.25%. Markets are predicting another cut to be almost certain at the Sept. 17-18 meeting.

That was intensified Friday as Powell reiterated that the Fed will "continue to act as appropriate to sustain this expansion," words the market sees as an indication the Fed will keep rates low.

But Fisher has a different interpretation of Powell's speech.

"I don't think there's any indication whatsoever as to which way they're likely to go," Fisher said. "[The speech] was good because he didn't say a damn thing."

Fisher said he does expect a 25-basis-point cut later in the month, adding that a 50-basis-point cut has been "thrown out the window."

"They only have so many cuts to offer before going back to the zero balance, which nobody wants to do," he said. "And they don't want to think about going negative."

The Dow on Friday was up 0.26% at its close, and the S&P 500 is about 1.6% from an intraday record that was reached on July 26.