Fed Minutes From September Show Debate On How Low Interest Rates Should Go

Here’s the most important point, to me, from the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s September 18 meeting released today. At the meeting the Fed lowered interest rates by 25 basis points for the second time in 2019.

“Several participants suggested that the committee’s post-meeting statement should provide more clarity about when the recalibration of the level of the policy rate in response to trade uncertainty would likely come to an end,’’ the minutes said. The minutes also showed that “a few participants” were becoming uncomfortable with the gap between market expectations for further easing and their own projections for the appropriate path of policy.

In other words, these Fed officials were becoming concerned that the financial markets were getting ahead of themselves in projecting another 25 basis point interest rate cut at the October 30 Fed meeting and a 25 basis point cut at the December 11 meeting.

We’ll know more about how uncomfortable they were/are over the next 10 days. Will those uncomfortable members try to talk down market expectations that now assume a better than 80% chance of an October cut? (More precisely 82.8% as of October 9, according to the CME Fed Watch Tool. That”s a twitch down from 83.4% on October 8. Odds for an additional 25 basis point cut on December 11 stood at 46.5% today, October 9.)