Fed's No-Rate-Cut Mantra Rejected by Markets Seeing Recession

Federal Reserve officials are making a full-court-press effort to convince investors they won’t be slashing their benchmark interest rate before year’s end.

It’s not working.

Money markets are pricing a rate peak around 4.9%, followed by nearly half a percentage point of rate cuts by the end of 2023. That’s despite multiple officials in recent days delivering a sharply contrasting message: Rates are heading above 5% and will stay there all year.

Just last month, Chair Jerome Powell highlighted that history warns against “prematurely loosening policy.” With traders effectively rejecting his narrative, the risk is that exuberance over monetary easing causes Fed officials to tighten even more — if falling market rates undercut their efforts to cool the economy.

“The market thinks the Fed is playing without a playbook, since their forecasts have been wrong before and they’ve downplayed them in the past,”’ said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global, who’s been working in financial markets since 1986. Investors judge that the US is “headed for a recession, and that the Fed doesn’t quite yet get it.”

US Treasury yields are little changed since before the Fed’s policy meeting last month, when officials raised their forecasts for how high the key rate will go. Powell highlighted that 17 of 19 predict a peak of 5% or more, a level above current market rates.