Even after the most recent cut by the FOMC, markets are pricing in another two rate reductions by the end of 2019.
The Fed: Two Cuts More?
The futures market for Fed Funds tells much of the story. Shortly before the September 2019 cut, futures traded as if the January 2020 Fed Funds rate would be about 50 bps below the Fed Funds effective rate at the time – 1.65% vs. 2.15%. That difference suggested the view that there would be either two 25-bps cuts or one 50-bps cut by the end of 2019.
Immediately after the September cut, however, that difference shrank by half – to about 25 bps (1.65% vs. 1.9%) suggesting a single 25-bps rate cut for the rest of the year. But later in September and into October, futures fell yet again, with the difference between the futures and the effective rate now widening from about 25 bps to nearly 38 bps by October 7, 2019. If that widening were to continue, it would suggest that another two 25-bps cuts would be in the cards – even after the September 18, 2019 cut.
Fed Funds Effective Rate vs. Fed Funds January Futures
On the Rise: U.S. Job Leavers
One of the strongest statistics involved workers leaving their current jobs. People who voluntarily quit and immediately start looking for other work reached 14.6% of the total number of unemployed workers, That’s close to the June 2019 high of 14.7%, a level last seen in October 2000, at the height of the Tech boom.
It’s important to remember, however, this figure is highly sensitive to the overall unemployment rate. The lower the unemployment rate, the higher the percentage of quitters will appear – even if the actual number of quitters remains the same. For example, in September 2019, there were 840k quitters; but the highest number of quitters, 1,097k, was reached in March 2012, when the unemployment rate was a much higher 8.2%. But even accounting for mathematical distortion, 840k workers willing to quit to seek better jobs is in no sense bad news.
On the Slide: Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
But one component of the balance sheet grew in recent weeks – lending to financial institutions, which counts as an asset on the Fed’s books. As of October 4, 2019 that lending amounted to some 4.8% of the balance sheet, or about $190 billion. The reason for this increase is mostly due to the Fed’s supplying liquidity to financial markets to keep the Fed’s overnight rates within its own target range of 1.75% to 2%.
The Fed has stated that it’s seeking to find a longer-term solution to the need for a more liquid overnight market. Whatever solution is devised, it could very well add to the Fed’s balance sheet in the months and years ahead.
A basis point (bps) is one one-hundredth of one percentage point (1/100% or 0.01%).
The Fed Funds effective rate is the market’s rate for Fed Funds, usually strongly related to the Fed Funds target rate.
The federal funds rate (fed funds rate, fed funds target rate or intended federal funds rate) is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies. It is the interest rate that banks with excess reserves at a U.S. Federal Reserve district bank charge other banks that need overnight loans.
Fed funds futures are financial contracts that represent the market opinion of where the daily official federal funds rate will be at the time of the contract expiry. The futures contracts are traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and are cash settled on the last business day of every month.
The U.S. Federal Reserve, or “Fed,” is responsible for the formulation of a policy designed to promote economic growth, full employment, stable prices, and a sustainable pattern of international trade and payments.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is a policy-making body of the Federal Reserve System responsible for the formulation of a policy designed to promote economic growth, full employment, stable prices, and a sustainable pattern of international trade and payments.
Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) is an economic statistic which measures the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.
A Mortgage-Backed Security (MBS) is a type of asset-backed security that is secured by a mortgage or collection of mortgages.
Quantitative easing (QE) refers to a monetary policy implemented by a central bank in which it increases the excess reserves of the banking system through the direct purchase of debt securities.
U.S. Treasuries are direct debt obligations issued and backed by the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government. The U.S. government guarantees the principal and interest payments on U.S. Treasuries when the securities are held to maturity. Unlike U.S. Treasury securities, debt securities issued by the federal agencies and instrumentalities and related investments may or may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Even when the U.S. government guarantees principal and interest payments on securities, this guarantee does not apply to losses resulting from declines in the market value of these securities.
Forecasts are inherently limited and should not be relied upon as indicators of actual or future performance.
All investments involve risk, including possible loss of principal.
The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested, and can be affected by changes in interest rates, in exchange rates, general market conditions, political, social and economic developments and other variable factors. Investment involves risks including but not limited to, possible delays in payments and loss of income or capital. Neither Legg Mason nor any of its affiliates guarantees any rate of return or the return of capital invested.
Equity securities are subject to price fluctuation and possible loss of principal. Fixed-income securities involve interest rate, credit, inflation and reinvestment risks; and possible loss of principal. As interest rates rise, the value of fixed income securities falls.
International investments are subject to special risks including currency fluctuations, social, economic and political uncertainties, which could increase volatility. These risks are magnified in emerging markets.
Commodities and currencies contain heightened risk that include market, political, regulatory, and natural conditions and may not be suitable for all investors.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Please note that an investor cannot invest directly in an index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect any fees, expenses or sales charges.
The opinions and views expressed herein are not intended to be relied upon as a prediction or forecast of actual future events or performance, guarantee of future results, recommendations or advice. Statements made in this material are not intended as buy or sell recommendations of any securities. Forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual developments and results to differ materially from the expectations expressed. This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. Information and opinions expressed by either Legg Mason or its affiliates are current as at the date indicated, are subject to change without notice, and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors.
The information in this material is confidential and proprietary and may not be used other than by the intended user. Neither Legg Mason or its affiliates or any of their officer or employee of Legg Mason accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising from any use of this material or its contents. This material may not be reproduced, distributed or published without prior written permission from Legg Mason. Distribution of this material may be restricted in certain jurisdictions. Any persons coming into possession of this material should seek advice for details of, and observe such restrictions (if any).
This material may have been prepared by an advisor or entity affiliated with an entity mentioned below through common control and ownership by Legg Mason, Inc. Unless otherwise noted the "$" (dollar sign) represents U.S. Dollars.
This material is only for distribution in those countries and to those recipients listed.
All investors and eligible counterparties in EU and EEA countries:
In Europe (excluding UK and Switzerland), this financial promotion is issued by Legg Mason Investments (Ireland) Limited, registered office Floor 6, Building Three, Number One, Ballsbridge, 126 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. D04 EP27, Ireland. Registered in Ireland, Company No. 271887. Authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
In the UK, this financial promotion is issued by Legg Mason Investments (Europe) Limited, registered office 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AB. Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 1732037. Authorized and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.
In Switzerland, this financial promotion is issued by Legg Mason Investments (Switzerland) GmbH, authorised by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA.
Investors in Switzerland: The representative in Switzerland is FIRST INDEPENDENT FUND SERVICES LTD., Klausstrasse 33, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland and the paying agent in Switzerland is NPB Neue Privat Bank AG, Limmatquai 1, 8024 Zurich, Switzerland. Copies of the Articles of Association, the Prospectus, the Key Investor Information documents and the annual and semi-annual reports of the Company may be obtained free of charge from the representative in Switzerland.
All Investors in Hong Kong and Singapore:
This material is provided by Legg Mason Asset Management Hong Kong Limited in Hong Kong and Legg Mason Asset Management Singapore Pte. Limited (Registration Number (UEN): 200007942R) in Singapore.
This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in Hong Kong or Singapore.
All Investors in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”):
This material is provided by Legg Mason Asset Management Hong Kong Limited to intended recipients in the PRC. The content of this document is only for Press or the PRC investors investing in the QDII Product offered by PRC’s commercial bank in accordance with the regulation of China Banking Regulatory Commission. Investors should read the offering document prior to any subscription. Please seek advice from PRC’s commercial banks and/or other professional advisors, if necessary. Please note that Legg Mason and its affiliates are the Managers of the offshore funds invested by QDII Products only. Legg Mason and its affiliates are not authorized by any regulatory authority to conduct business or investment activities in China.
This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in the PRC.
Distributors and existing investors in Korea and Distributors in Taiwan:
This material is provided by Legg Mason Asset Management Hong Kong Limited to eligible recipients in Korea and by Legg Mason Investments (Taiwan) Limited (Registration Number: (98) Jin Guan Tou Gu Xin Zi Di 001; Address: Suite E, 55F, Taipei 101 Tower, 7, Xin Yi Road, Section 5, Taipei 110, Taiwan, R.O.C.; Tel: (886) 2-8722 1666) in Taiwan. Legg Mason Investments (Taiwan) Limited operates and manages its business independently.
This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in Korea or Taiwan.
All Investors in the Americas:
This material is provided by Legg Mason Investor Services LLC, a U.S. registered Broker-Dealer, which includes Legg Mason Americas International. Legg Mason Investor Services, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, and all entities mentioned are subsidiaries of Legg Mason, Inc.
All Investors in Australia:
This material is issued by Legg Mason Asset Management Australia Limited (ABN 76 004 835 839, AFSL 204827) ("Legg Mason"). The contents are proprietary and confidential and intended solely for the use of Legg Mason and the clients or prospective clients to whom it has been delivered. It is not to be reproduced or distributed to any other person except to the client's professional advisers.