Fed’s Harker: No More Rate Cuts, Let’s ‘See How Things Play Out’
Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker, who reluctantly supported the July interest rate cut, doesn’t think another cut is necessary at the moment.
“We’re roughly where neutral is. It’s hard to know exactly where neutral is, but I think we’re roughly where neutral is right now. And I think we should stay here for a while and see how things play out,” Harker told CNBC Thursday while attending the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The markets had been calling for an interest rate cut, and the Fed answered by cutting its key policy interest rate by 25 basis points to a range between 2% and 2.25% back in July. It was the first time the Fed had cut rates since before the Great Recession over a decade ago.
Harker is not a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, and while he did somewhat support the rate cut, he thinks the Fed should wait before implementing more cuts in the future, according to CNBC. He said he didn’t see any evidence that would support more easing at the moment.
“The labor markets are strong, inflation is moving up slowly — but with the last CPI print, it was a good print,” he said.
The main yield curve that tracks the relationship between the 10-year Treasury and the 2-year note inverted recently, which has been a warning sign that has precluded every the past five recessions. The inversion actually happened again after Harker’s comments Thursday morning, with the 2-year note hitting 1.601% while the 10-year sat at 1.597%.
U.S. manufacturing growth also contracted for the first time in a decade Thursday as recession indicators keep popping up. IHS Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 49.9 from 50.4 and the firm notes that anything below 50 signals contraction.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George chimed in on July’s rate cut as well Thursday, saying the cut was unnecessary, according to CNBC. The news from the two Fed officials spooked investors slightly as they were confident another rate cut would come during the Fed’s September meetings.
The CME’s FedWatch Tool showed traders were pricing in a 90% probability of another .25% cut, which was down slightly from the 98% on Wednesday.
The Fed is holding its annual conference with other central banks around the world this week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s keynote speech Friday may signal the Fed’s next move before the FOMC’s next meeting on Sept. 17-18.