Federal Federal Federal

Federal Reserve and Bank of England: same struggles, different paths

Bonds
Althea Spinozzi

Senior Fixed Income Strategist

Summary:  The market is not buying the Federal Reserve nor the Bank of England's message. While the Federal Reserve is confident to tighten the economy aggressively in the US without causing a recession, the bond market says that a downturn might be inevitable. Despite a dovish monetary policy meeting in the UK, investors remain of the idea that the BOE will not be able to afford its dovish stance and that it will need to hike rates to 2% by the end of the year.


Following a hawkish European Central Bank last week and Federal Reserve yesterday, the market expected the Bank of England to follow through with a hawkish monetary policy decision today. However, the BOE didn’t join the chorus of central banks saying that inflation needs to be fought and redirected its focus towards growth instead of price pressures. That is a massive change from the BOE's February meeting, in which four out of nine members voted in favor to hike rates by 50bps instead of 25bps. As one can deduce by the monetary policy meeting summary, a 50bps rate hike is off the table now. "The Committee judges that some further modest tightening in monetary policy may be appropriate in the coming months." In February, the same line read that tightening was "likely to be appropriate." The BOE is sending the message that it prefers to tighten the economy slowly as the risk of stagflation surges amid a continuous rise in inflationary pressures and a slump in growth.

However, there is a problem with the BOE’s reasoning. Until the end of last year, the BOE was expected to be one of the most hawkish central banks in the developed world. Now it looks to be the most dovish, weighing negatively on cable, therefore welcoming more inflation.

That’s why the market is not buying into the BOE's statement. Before the monetary policy decision, investors were pricing the BOE base rate to soar up to 2.25% by 2022. After today's meeting, they see only five rate hikes pushing the base rate to 2%. If investors thought that the BOE could afford to be less aggressive, they would have boldly pared-back rate expectations for this year.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group.

Looking at the other side of the Atlantic, the Federal Reserve’s message has been more explicit: the central bank will not stop until it has a hold of inflation. The dot plot completed the Fed's hawkish statement and almost matched the market's interest rate hikes expectations. Interestingly, the dot plot shows interest rates rising above the Fed's terminal rate by 40bps in 2023 and 2024, indicating that the central bank expects inflation to run hot longer than anticipated.

The big problem with the Fed's decision is that there is a stark contrast between the central bank's tightening agenda and its economic outlook. Although growth has been revised down from 4% to 2.8% this year, the Fed expects it to remain above 2% for the next three years. Even more surprising is the unemployment rate forecast, which shows unemployment will remain stable during the next couple of years, increasing from 3.5% to 3.6% in 2024. Envisioning growth and unemployment to remain stable while the central bank tightens the economy is wishful thinking. Indeed, reducing consumers' demand implies weak growth or higher unemployment, and neither features in the forecasts.

In conclusion, in the UK, the BOE realistically looks at the impact that high price pressures and the war in Ukraine might have on the economy but fails to recognize the danger of high inflation becoming entrenched. In the US, the Fed remains blind to the economic impact of high inflation and an aggressive tightening agenda, yet is willing to get a hold of price pressures.

Nevertheless, the bond market rightly signals that we might be approaching dangerous territory. Since yesterday's Fed meeting, the US yield curve between 5-year and 10-year briefly inverted. We believe that as the markets try to digest the Fed's message, an inversion in this area will consolidate and might bring more inversion in other parts of the US yield curve. Historically, an inverted yield curve has signaled a possible recession in 12 to 18 months. However, there is the risk that a downturn will come much before that, or even before an inversion occurs.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group.
Disclaimer

Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Limited prepares and distributes information/research produced within the Saxo Bank Group for informational purposes only. In addition to the disclaimer below, if any general advice is provided, such advice does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of trading any financial instrument as trading can result in losses that exceed your initial investment. Please refer to our Analysis Disclaimer, and our Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement. All legal documentation and disclaimers can be found at https://www.home.saxo/en-au/legal/.

The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service. Access and use of Saxo News & Research and any Saxo Bank Group website are subject to (i) the Terms of Use; (ii) the full Disclaimer; and (iii) the Risk Warning in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group.

Saxo News & Research is provided for informational purposes, does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. No Saxo Bank Group entity shall be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information on Saxo News & Research.

To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, such content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication.

None of the information contained here constitutes an offer to purchase or sell a financial instrument, or to make any investments.Saxo Capital Markets does not take into account your personal investment objectives or financial situation and makes no representation and assumes no liability as to the accuracy or completeness of the information nor for any loss arising from any investment made in reliance of this presentation. Any opinions made are subject to change and may be personal to the author. These may not necessarily reflect the opinion of Saxo Capital Markets or its affiliates.

Please read our disclaimers:
- Full Disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/en-au/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)
- Analysis Disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/en-au/legal/analysis-disclaimer/saxo-analysis-disclaimer)
- Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (https://www.home.saxo/legal/niird/notification)

Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Limited
Suite 1, Level 14, 9 Castlereagh St
Sydney NSW 2000
Australia

Contact Saxo

Select region

Australia
Australia

The Saxo trading platform has received numerous awards and recognition. For details of these awards and information on awards visit www.home.saxo/en-au/about-us/awards

Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Limited ABN 32 110 128 286 AFSL 280372 (‘Saxo’ or ‘Saxo Capital Markets’) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saxo Bank A/S, headquartered in Denmark. Please refer to our General Business Terms, Financial Services Guide, Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination to consider whether acquiring or continuing to hold financial products is suitable for you, prior to opening an account and investing in a financial product.

Trading in financial instruments carries various risks, and is not suitable for all investors. Please seek expert advice, and always ensure that you fully understand these risks before trading. Saxo Capital Markets does not provide ‘personal’ financial product advice, any information available on this website is ‘general’ in nature and for informational purposes only. Saxo Capital Markets does not take into account an individual’s needs, objectives or financial situation. The Target Market Determination should assist you in determining whether any of the products or services we offer are likely to be consistent with your objectives, financial situation and needs.

Apple, iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries. AppStore is a service mark of Apple Inc.

The information or the products and services referred to on this website may be accessed worldwide, however is only intended for distribution to and use by recipients located in countries where such use does not constitute a violation of applicable legislation or regulations. Products and Services offered on this website is not intended for residents of the United States and Japan.

Please click here to view our full disclaimer.