Thursday, May 4, 2017

FOMC Keeps Fed Funds Rate Unchanged; Stocks Look Elsewhere

As expected the FOMC of the Federal Reserve took no action on interest rates Wednesday, concluding their two-day May meeting.

The federal funds rate remained at 0.75-1.00% for now, though analysts expect the Fed to raise rates twice more this year, most likely at the June and September or December meetings.

While the Fed wants to raise rates in order to have some ammunition to stave off any chance of a recession, the thinking is somewhat backwards. One would normally raise rates in good times, to keep the economy from overheating. Increasing the cost of borrowing in a stable environment might produce exactly what the Fed is fighting - an economic downturn.

Skepticism is high over the Federal Reserve's actual control of the economy beyond their massive "investments" and liquidity injections over the past eight years since the GFC. Now that the Fed has done its job, the ECB and Bank of Japan have picked up the slack with hefty asset purchases. How these central bankers intend to wind down their bloated balance sheets without causing severe oversupply is a question that remains unanswered, thus the nervousness within what is, after all, the second-longest bull market in history.

At the end of the day, only the Dow finished positive. The other major markets were marginally on the downside.

At the close, 5/3/17:
Dow: 20,957.90, +8.01 (0.04%)
NASDAQ: 6,072.55, -22.82 (-0.37%)
S&P 500: 2,388.13, -3.04 (-0.13%)
NYSE Composite: 11,529.66, -21.64 (-0.19%)

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