According to a Goldman Sachs forecast, the Federal Reserve likely will slice interest rates once again next week, but with this move it may be heading in a new direction, aimed at signaling that the current easing cycle could be over.
Markets widely prognosticate that the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee will carry-out a quarter-point reduction at the Oct. 29-30 meeting that will take the target range for the funds rate down to 1.5% to 1.75%. The CME FedWatch Tool places the probability of a rate cut at 93.5% as of Thursday. Goldman concurs, assigning a similar 95% probability of a cut. The rate refers to what banks charge each other for overnight lending, but influences a broad range of consumer debt as well.
In making the rate cuts, Fed officials have noted the heightened economic and political uncertainty and have explained that any moves have been primarily in response to concerns of global slowing, U.S.-China tariffs and tame inflation rather than an indication that the U.S. economy is in trouble.
“Strong signaling from Fed leadership indicates that the modest trade war de-escalation since September has not deterred them from completing a 75bp, 1990s-style ‘mid-cycle adjustment,’” Goldman economist Spencer Hill wrote in a note to clients.
Goldman economists see the Fed adjusting some language in its statement to suggest that this third policy easing of the year, will complete the central bank’s “midcycle adjustment” that Chairman Powell alluded to in July.
Hill said that Chairman Powell may make certain nuances with his speech that could suggest the overall direction the Fed will take going forward, possibly removing phrases used in the past such as it “will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”
“Chair Powell will have a fine line to walk during the press conference if he hopes to satisfy market participants projecting additional easing as well as the critics of insurance cuts — both on and off the Committee,” Hill said “Reflecting this, we expect a slightly hawkish tone, with Powell alluding to a baseline of unchanged policy but emphasizing data-dependence and the ability to respond quickly if the outlook deteriorates.”
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