Jerome Powell’s performance could not have been much better. He gave exactly what the people wanted—dovishness. In fact, if anything, he was almost comically dovish, disregarding the very strong jobs performance last month. No matter though, investors are pleased as it now looks nearly 100% likely the Fed will cut rates later this month, and seems as though they will stay on a cutting path for some time. The Fed’s shift in policy appears to affirm that they are currently considering the condition of the global economy as a major threat to the US.
FINSUM: The Fed is in a pretty easy spot if you think about it. Inflation is very low, markets want cuts, and the global economy is looking weak. Simple solution with no real downside—cut rates.
The White House is considering a new plan to cut capital gains taxes. The administration is seeking to do so by indexing capital gains rates to inflation, a move that would significantly help wealthier Americans lower their tax bills. Interestingly, the White House is considering advancing the bill in such a way as to bypass Congress. The impetus for doing so is that they want to make sure the changes hit before the 2020 election.
FINSUM: This is quite logical and could have a big impact. Imagine you could exclude 2% of an annualized 8% gain from all capital gains taxes!
Gold has been doing well recently. Between global trade turmoil, a falling economy, and decreasing yields, the metal has thrived. Here are three reasons the gains won’t reverse. The first is that the stock market continues to look risky, meaning gold’s allure as a safe haven seems assured. Secondly, yields on bonds have a definitively downward direction, which makes gold more attractive. Finally, inflation is unlikely to stay low forever. When it starts to rise, it would give investors another reason to bet on gold instead of bonds.
FINSUM: We don’t really think inflation will be much of a factor for gold in the immediate term, but the first two points are material.
Deutsche Bank is an uber dove. The bank has just come out saying it expects the Fed to make three full rate cuts before the end of the year. “Over the past month, downside risks to the outlook for the US economy and Fed have built”, said Deutsche Bank, continuing that a mix of different concerns, from the trade war to weak inflation, are pointing to “more negative outcomes”. Pimco thinks the Fed won’t cut this month, but that it may cut by 50 bp in July, saying “we wouldn’t expect Fed officials to wait for the economic data to confirm declining US growth — if they do, they could risk a more meaningful shock to economic activity”.
FINSUM: The odds of a downturn certainly seem higher than an upturn, which means the Fed is much more likely to cut than to hike. That said, three rate hikes in the next six months sounds a bit aggressive to us, especially because the Fed would want to leave some firepower if the economy really heads downward.
There has been a lot of speculation about whether there may be rate cuts this year. The Fed has been less than clear about this possibility, mostly indicating it just wants to stay put for the year. The Treasury market has been very vocal, however, with investors clearly indicating they expect rate cuts over the second half of the year. Now JP Morgan is weighing in, saying that the Fed is likely to cut rates twice by the end of the year, a prediction which precisely matches what markets are calling for. The ten-year Treasury yield fell below 2.1% recently.
FINSUM: We think the cut will come as a function of how the trade war plays out. Trump is certainly pushing the Fed’s hand, but we expect the central bank will remain “data dependent”.