Every word the Federal Reserve speaks this week and next will get examined in excruciating detail because with the Fed’s quiet period due to start on July 20, the central bank has less than two weeks to talk financial markets up or down ahead of the July 31 meeting of the Fed’s Open Market Committee.
If the Fed wants to change market expectations for an interest rate cut at that meeting, it’s speak now or forget about it.
The odds right now, according to the CME’s FedWatch Tool, which uses prices in the Fed Funds Futures market to calculate the odds of a Fed move, are at 95.1% for a 25 basis point cut in interest rates at the Fed’s July 31 meeting. The odds that the Fed will hold steady are at 0%. The odds of a 50 basis point cut stand at just 4.9%, having collapsed from 32.3% on June 28 in the aftermath of the strong June jobs report on Friday. The odds of a second 25 basis point interest cut at the September 18 meeting are at 67.4%, up from 50.2% on June 7.
My rule of thumb is that odds of 65% or better just about guarantee a Fed move since the central bank doesn’t like to surprise the financial markets and throw them into turmoil. So if the Fed disagrees with those market odds, the next two weeks are when we’d expect the Federal Reserve to be trying to talk the market expectations up or down.
And there seem to be lots of occasions for doing that before the window closes on July 20.
On Tuesday, July 9, Fed chair Jerome Powell and Fed vice-chair for supervision Randal Quarles are scheduled to speak at the Federal Reserve Board Conference on stress testing.
On Wednesday and Thursday Powell will give his semiannual report on monetary policy to first the House and then the Senate. On that same Thursday, Quarles will participate in a discussion on Financial Regulation and Monetary Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
And, of course, the Fed releases the minutes from its June 18-19 meeting on that Wednesday as well.