Rate Hike Will Depend on Data and Judgement, Says Fed Vice Chair

Even with the latest market sell-offs occurring in U.S. equities, the general consensus in the capital markets is that a rate hike will be announced by the central bank in December, but the decision will also hinge on data, judgement and a little extra, according to Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida.

“A monetary policy strategy must find a way to combine incoming data and a model of the economy with a healthy dose of judgment — and humility! — to formulate, and then communicate, a path for the policy rate most consistent with our policy objectives,” said Clarida, as he delivered a speech to New York bankers.

Not long ago, it seemed that a fourth and final rate hike to cap off 2018 was a sure thing, but the sell-offs in October and its spillover into November may have caused the Federal Reserve to take on a more dovish tone heading into December.

Currently, the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, an algorithm that calculates the probability of a rate hike in a given month, is showing a 79.2% chance the Federal Reserve will institute a fourth rate hike for December. Nonetheless, the latest comments from various Fed members might be signaling otherwise.

Bears and Doves Abound

Just as the bears appear to be reigning in the capital markets, the doves may start to be appearing as 2018 comes to a close. For example, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell exhibited signs of cautiousness as he discussed the economy at a symposium with Dallas Fed President Robert S. Kaplan earlier this month.

“So, you know, a good example is — a noneconomic example would be you’re walking through a room full of furniture and the lights go off. What do you do? You slow down. You stop, probably, and feel your way,” Powell said.

Related: Jim Cramer: Markets in ‘One of the Worst Times in a Long Time’ as Yields Rise, Stocks Fall

In the meantime, Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams is keen to sticking with hiking rates–somewhat.

“We’ll be likely raising interest rates somewhat but it’s really in the context of a very strong economy,” Williams said at a community event in New York on Monday. “We’re not on a preset course. We’ll adjust how we do monetary policy to do our best to keep this economy going strong with low inflation.”