As expected, the Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday raised the target range of the
federal funds rate—a key short-term interest rate—by 25 basis points from the current
0-25 bp to 25-50 bp. The move was widely anticipated as a reaction to the historically
high levels of inflation seen in recent months. For example, the consumer price index for
February 2022 rose 7.9 percent from a year earlier—the biggest increase since January
Looking beyond the immediate news of the day, we see that the Fed expects to
continue raising the fed funds rate during 2022 and into 2023 based on its forecast for
inflation and other factors.
As seen in the chart, the Fed’s so-called “dot plot”—in which each Fed official plots one
dot on a grid to show where they think rates are headed—suggests the Fed will raise
rates six more times this year and at least three times next year. That would mean at
least 10 rate hikes in total (counting Wednesday’s increase), bringing the fed funds rate
up to around 2.75 bp by the start of 2024.
As borrowing costs rise over time, consumers typically spend less—easing the pressure
on prices. Indeed, the market is now pricing the Fed to cut rates once during
2024—suggesting the market believes 10 hikes may be too much for the economy to
handle over the next 18 months.
Of course, the Fed’s outlook for the economy and interest rates can and does evolve
as new data emerges. Consider that back in December 2021, Fed officials were
expecting just three rate hikes in 2022 and about six more over the next two years.
As always, we will closely monitor the Fed’s statements and actions regarding inflation
and interest rates—with a particular eye toward how those two factors are impacting
consumer confidence and consumer spending—and we will adjust the portfolios as
necessary to address economic and market conditions.
For clients who may be nervous about the short term health of the economy, a strategy
designed to mitigate drawdown risk, while continuing to grow assets may be a fitting
solution. Consider Risk Assist, designed with the goal of protecting wealth, reducing
investor anxiety and combating poor investment decision-making.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics 3/10/22. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cpi.pdf
This commentary is written by Horizon Investments’ asset management team. For additional commentary and media interviews, contact Chief Investment Officer Scott Ladner at 704-919-3602 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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