The Federal Reserve will be not be raising interest rates at the FOMC meeting on June 14 and 15. You can take that to the bank.
After the recent release of minutes from previous Fed discussions about a rate hike in April, the odds of a rate hike were looking better for a bit. Judging by Fed Fund futures, as measured by the CME FedWatch tool, there was a roughly 36% chance of a rate hike in June just a few weeks ago… but now, after an ugly May jobs report that probability has fallen to just 4%.
Why? Well, the most recent and most obvious reason is the ugly May jobs report that showed just 38,000 jobs, far below economist estimates of 162,000. That’s hardly an encouraging sign for policymakers that were looking for signs of a robust U.S. economy that could handle a June interest rate hike.
But it’s not just the May jobs report. A host of other factors were indicating the odds of a June rate hike were long anyway. Those items include:
Inflation Is Tepid: The other side of the Fed’s “dual mandate” is to use interest rates to keep inflation in check. Well, core inflation is averaging about 1.6% this year — below the 2% target of the Federal Reserve, and some central bank officials don’t expect that to change for as much as three years. So even if jobs numbers were OK (which they clearly weren’t), they would have to blow the doors off to justify a rate hike when inflation is clearly not a problem.
Negative Rates Elsewhere: Consider that the Bank of Japan adopted negative interest rates in January, a year and a half after the European Central Bank went negative. Consider that central banks from Hungary to India to Turkey to Indonesia have all cut rates in the last two months or so. Why in the world would we go the other way?
Uncertainty Abounds: Even if you want to raise rates, there are the uncomfortable political truths of the Brexit vote in June as well as a presidential contest in November. That makes it very difficult for Janet Yellen and the FOMC to raise U.S. interest rates right now given the risks of a systemic shift in Europe’s economy and the political fallout from any move before Election Day 2016.
Bottom line: The Fed would be foolish to raise rates here without crystal-clear signals that the U.S. economy is strong, that inflation is more of a problem than the risk of deflation and that America is resilient enough to deal with the high amount of uncertainty out there right now.
So don’t sweat the June FOMC. It wasn’t likely going to hold a rate hike before, and certainly won’t after the May jobs numbers.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks. Write him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.