Federal Reserve raises interest rates for third time in 2018
Liam Sheasby, News Editor
27 Sep 2018, 4:20 p.m.
Jerome Powell at the Federal Reserve's conference last night. Photo courtesy of the Federal Reserve/Flickr.
The US Federal Reserve has announced another interest rate rise, up by a quarter percent from 2% to 2.25%. The decision is the eighth rise in rates since 2015, and the fifth since President Trump came to office in 2017.
In the build up to Powell’s statement, investors priced in an expected rate rise believing that the US economy’s steady growth and upper hand in the trade war with China would warrant higher interest rates to contain inflation, with the Dollar Index making gains over other currencies.
Jerome Powell, the Chair of the Fed, gave his statement to reporters at 7pm BST yesterday (Midday Eastern time) in which he cited a strong US economy as the driving force, and predicted at least three years of further growth.
Only Canada of the G7 comes close to America for interest rate rises, with four, but following a speech by Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank, it’s believed that other major economies will soon follow suit and begin economic tightening in line with the United States.
In response to the speech, the US Treasury yield curve flattened, while the Dollar slightly lost value against other currencies including the Euro and Yen. This could perhaps be a result of President Donald Trump’s comments about the Federal Reserve’s decision. Speaking in New York at the UN General Assembly, Trump said he was unhappy about the decision to raise rates, but admitted the strong economy was the cause.
'I'm not happy.' That was Donald Trump's reaction to the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates for the third time this year. But analysts say the US central bank may need to do more to slow the economy down.— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) September 27, 2018
President Trump’s comments, as well as his previous criticisms of Jerome Powell and the Fed, are likely driven by the impact the Federal Reserve’s actions may have on the future economy. Things look very good for the USA at present but by 2020 – when Trump is likely to stand for re-election – things may have slowed down and, if interest rates get too high, there may even be a recession.
The next forecast rate rise is for December, with the Fed stating that they expected a further three rises of interest rates in 2019 and one in 2020. The Federal Reserve’s data predicted gross domestic product (GDP) growth at a higher-than-expected 3.1% for this year, slowing to 2.5% next year, 2% in 2020, and 1.8% in 2021 as the benefits of the current tax cuts and government spending plans begin to fade.
The price of gold is currently down further in the past 24 hours, with pressure from rising interest rates hitting safe-haven demand for gold bullion even more. Gold has fallen by 12% since April thanks to the combination of more frequent rate rises from the Fed and the ongoing US/China trade war driving demand for the Dollar up.
Gold did, briefly, gain ground ahead of Powell’s speech, and Juan Perez – a Senior Currency Trader at Tempus Inc – believes this is the market recognising the Fed’s new laissez-faire approach to the US economy, providing a window of opportunity for gold to climb back up in price.
“Let’s see if trade tensions are long-term and if hiking rates is indeed sustainable” said Mr Perez, speaking to the Reuters news agency.
“These doubts along with momentum building on the other side of the Atlantic are factors negatively impacting the buck. [The] Dollar doesn’t need to sink, but it will not keep being propelled by what’s been common thus far this year. The safe-haven status may fade as a source of strengthening.”