After the December rate hike, the central bank signaled dovishness by forecasting two rate hikes as opposed to three, but Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is even more dovish.
“If there is a downturn in the global economy and that spills into the U.S. … It’s very possible we may have seen the last interest rate hike of this cycle,” said Yellen at the National Retail Federation’s annual Big Show event in New York.
The Federal initially forecasted four rate hikes in 2019, but following the turmoil in the capital markets to end 2018, that projection turned to two rate hikes in December. The markets are now expecting a rate pause and possibly cuts following a volatile end to the previous year.
However, Yellen doesn’t completely dismiss the notion that more rate hikes are possible in 2019.
“Perhaps another rate hike or two is perfectly possible, but nothing is baked in,” said Yellen.
“Patience is a Virtue” with Interest Rates
It seems that “patience” is the recurring theme in Fedspeak as of late with Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida echoing the same on Thursday. After four definitive rate hikes in 2018, the Fed is now taking a wait-and-see approach for 2019.
“We begin the year as close to our assigned objectives as we have in a very long time. In these circumstances, I believe patience is a virtue and is one we can today afford,” said Clarida in prepared remarks for the Money Marketeers of New York University.