Failure Theatre: Fed Rate Hike Edition

The Fed Meets!
The Fed Meets!

If you don’t want to watch my cute news video, I’ll give you the executive summary….”Bwakk, B-B-B-Bwacwk! Bwak, Bwak Bwak, Bwak!” Just be done with it and state the sordid truth. Janet Yellin will not do it. The Fed is not under enough pressure from the probability of pension failures to end their current loose monetary policies. She is more frightened of the equities mob.

There was somewhat of a kerfuffle when minutes to a Fed meeting were leaked. We learn the following if these are legitimate.

Conditions for a rate increase are “approaching” though not at hand, according to the minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting. Policymakers at the U.S. central bank’s Open Market Committee said at the July session that conditions hadn’t been achieved yet for the first interest rate increase in nearly 10 years, due primarily to inflation that is not yet moving toward the necessary conditions.

This weakness triggered a predictable reaction from people heavily invested in equities. The Fed-Bullying Sell-off commenced.

The S&P 500 fell into negative territory for the year and struggled to climb out of it, with consumer discretionary the greatest decliner on the day. Energy is the greatest laggard for the year, down 17 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average traded about 210 points lower after falling more than 225 points, with Merck and Disney leading nearly all blue chips lower. The index is off more than 3.5 percent for the year so far. The Nasdaq Composite lost more than 1.4 percent, with Apple off more than 2 percent and biotechs falling more than 1.5 percent. The index is up more than 4 percent year-to-date.

The bond market will have to stay on the floor. Bond yields will continue to be depressed so that the loose money crowd can continue to pump corporate stocks far beyond anything that is justifiable under traditional metrics such as Earnings-Per-Share. The likelihood of failure for guaranteed benefit pension plans has not gotten significant enough to make a demand for high-yielding, safe bonds a salient market feature just yet. When this occurs, the Fed will acquiesce and let the rates on the 10-Year go up a few notches.

That would in turn kick the crutches out from under the stock market. That will be deemed politically infeasible by the Fed for about 2.5 more years. For now, any talk about Fed Rate Hikes is just another genre of Failure Theatre.™ It’s not just for Republicans anymore.

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