Today’s comments from Fed Chairman Janet Yellen on rates pushed the probability of any near-term rate hike sharply lower.
The implied probability of an April quarter-point hike fell from 11.5% to 4.6%.
The implied probability of a June quarter-point hike fell from 34.6% to 28.4%. The probability of a 50bps-hike went in June went from 3.5% to 1.2%.
Can you spot in the chart below where Fed Chairman Janet Yellen made dovish comments?
In her speech today, Yellen indicated the Fed should proceed “cautiously” as it looks to raise interest rates again.
“Given the risks to the outlook, I consider it appropriate for the Committee to proceed cautiously in adjusting policy. This caution is especially warranted because, with the federal funds rate so low, the FOMC’s ability to use conventional monetary policy to respond to economic disturbances is asymmetric. If economic conditions were to strengthen considerably more than currently expected, the FOMC could readily raise its target range for the federal funds rate to stabilize the economy. By contrast, if the expansion was to falter or if inflation was to remain stubbornly low, the FOMC would be able to provide only a modest degree of additional stimulus by cutting the federal funds rate back to near zero.”
Yellen also dismissed claims the Fed is out of bullets, saying even if rates return to zero the Fed has a ‘considerable scope’ to provide additional accommodation.
“One must be careful, however, not to overstate the asymmetries affecting monetary policy at the moment. Even if the federal funds rate were to return to near zero, the FOMC would still have considerable scope to provide additional accommodation. In particular, we could use the approaches that we and other central banks successfully employed in the wake of the financial crisis to put additional downward pressure on long-term interest rates and so support the economy–specifically, forward guidance about the future path of the federal funds rate and increases in the size or duration of our holdings of long-term securities. While these tools may entail some risks and costs that do not apply to the federal funds rate, we used them effectively to strengthen the recovery from the Great Recession, and we would do so again if needed.”