2023 was an unprecedented year for interest rate volatility. The yield on the 10-year reached a low of 3.3% in April following the regional banking crisis, peaked at 5% in October, and finished the year at 3.8% following a series of supportive inflation data.
Given that inflation has declined to 3.1% which is nearly 70% less than the highest levels of 2021, the odds of a soft landing continue to rise. Currently, the Fed’s plan is to loosen financial conditions by lowering the Fed funds rate, while it continues to shrink its balance sheet.
Part of the plan should also be to reduce bond market volatility especially since it has doubled over the past 2 years and remains elevated relative to norms. In some respects, elevated bond market volatility is a consequence of the Fed’s battle against inflation. Now, it must also effectively deal with this issue before it becomes more substantial.
Therefore, it’s likely that the Fed will cut back on its quantitative tightening program in which $95 billion worth of maturing bonds are not reinvested. Already, these efforts have succeeded in shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet by 15%. Another reason that curbing bond market volatility is necessary is that the Treasury will be auctioning off large amounts of notes and bills in the coming months.
Finsum: The Federal Reserve has made significant strides in turning inflation lower. Now, it must take steps to reduce bond market volatility.