Fed’s Powell Urges Flexibility on Rate Projections: Forecasts Not Set in Stone

James Hyerczyk
Published: Sep 20, 2023, 20:55 GMT+00:00

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the interest rate outlook isn't set; experts diverged on interpreting Fed's cautious future stance.

Powell statement


  • Powell hints at possible rate increase by year-end.
  • Fed Chair Powell: ‘We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate.’
  • 10 of 19 officials project policy rate above 5%.
  • Economic growth projection revised to 2.1% for 2023.

Fed’s Outlook on Rate Forecasts

Powell’s Take on Rate Plans

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell delivered a word of caution following today’s recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Addressing the
Fed’s updated rate forecasts, Powell emphasized that the presented outlook isn’t necessarily indicative of a concrete plan. The new projections simply suggest that the economy might outperform earlier expectations.

Powell, who oversaw a decision to maintain steady rates but hinted at a possible increase by year-end, stressed the need for flexibility. He stated, “We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate.”

Fed’s Monetary Stance

Central bank’s current approach has garnered widespread attention. Ahead of its meeting, there were strong expectations for significant rate cuts in the coming year. These expectations have since been tempered by projections indicating that 10 of 19 officials foresee the policy rate lingering above 5% through the next year. Market responses were swift.

The two-year Treasury note surged to its highest since July 2006, stocks closed lower, and the dollar made a comeback against major currencies. With the recent turn of events, traders seem less optimistic about rate reductions in the future.

Economic Forecasts and External Views

There’s a notable change in the Fed’s economic growth projections. Previously forecasting growth as slow as 0.4% for the year, the central bank now anticipates a 2.1% growth for 2023. The predictions also suggest stable unemployment rates, hinting at confidence in managing inflation without major job cuts. However, there are concerns. With rising borrowing costs, companies and households could face stringent credit conditions.

Olu Sonola of Fitch Ratings interpreted the Fed’s revised figures as evidence of increased confidence in a soft economic landing, despite persistently high rates. In contrast, Omair Sharif of Inflation Insights labeled the Fed’s projections as “oddly optimistic” regarding the labor market and “pessimistically skewed” on core inflation.

Experts Weigh In

Various experts had their say post the Fed announcement. Garrett Melson of Natixis Investment Managers Solutions, Boston, saw a strong signal towards a soft landing, given the upward revisions in growth and the reduced unemployment projections.

Gina Bolvin from Bolvin Wealth Management Group, Boston, believed the Fed has returned to a neutral stance and is optimistic about the potential for a soft landing.

Contrarily, Tom Martin from Globalt Investments, Atlanta, found the announcement more hawkish than expected and foresaw elevated interest costs persisting for a longer duration.

Short-Term OutlookA Cautious Stance

Drawing from the current updates and expert opinions, it’s clear that the Federal Reserve is advocating a cautious and flexible approach, re-evaluating its stance as and when new data emerges.

While the current sentiment might lean towards a bullish outlook, traders and investors should remain vigilant, as policy decisions will remain heavily tethered to evolving economic conditions.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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