Is that a hawk?
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) met last week. They get together eight times a year to review current economic and financial conditions, assess risks to price stability and economic growth, and adjust monetary policy accordingly.
When the Federal Reserve raises the fed funds rate to keep inflation and economic growth in check, it is ‘hawkish’. When the Fed lowers the fed funds rate to encourage inflation and economic growth, it is ‘dovish’.
Last week, the FOMC appeared to veer toward a more hawkish policy.
The FOMC did not change current policy. However, the dot plot – a chart that reflects meeting participants’ expectations for the fed funds rate in the years ahead – showed a majority leaning toward two rate hikes in 2023. That was new. The March 2021 dot plot, which showed no rate hikes before 2024, reported Ben Levisohn, Nicholas Jasinski, and Barbara Kollmeyer of Barron’s.
Financial market suspicions that a hawkish turn might be underway were confirmed on Friday when St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard, who will become a voting FOMC member next year, told Rebecca Quick of CNBC’s Squawk Box:
“We were expecting a good year, a good reopening. But this is a bigger year than we were expecting, more inflation than we were expecting, and I think it’s natural that we’ve tilted a little bit more hawkish here to contain inflationary pressures.”
Financial markets weren’t thrilled by the news.
“The increasingly hawkish tilt caused stocks that benefit from a stronger economy and hotter inflation – the financials, energy, and materials sectors among them – to get hit hard, and has sparked a resurgence in the tech trade. Growthier tech stocks again beat cyclical and value stocks on Friday…All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 finished in the red on Friday,” reported Barron’s.
Major United States stock indices finished the week lower, and the Treasury yield curve flattened somewhat, suggesting slower economic growth may be ahead.
photo by: A Ferruginous Hawk on an Old Snag © Derrick Neill | Dreamstime.com