Discipline Argues Against Consensus Narrative

by Marc Chandler

Following the release of the FOMC minutes from last month's meeting, the consensus narrative that has emerged says that it was dovish because there is a growing worry the reason inflation fell is not simply due to transitory factors. This explains, according to the narrative the dollar's losses and the stock market rally.

It seems reasonable until one looks closer. The best proxy for Fed expectations is not the dollar or the 10-year yield or stocks. It is the Fed funds futures and the short-end of the coupon curve. The implied yield on the December 2018 Fed funds futures rose one basis point yesterday. The two-year note yield rose half a half a basis point yesterday. The signal is not in the magnitude of the move but direction.

The market has come to accept a December rate hike, just as it had to be led by the hand to recognize the March hike. It has been skeptical of hikes next year. Consider that the effective average Fed funds rate has been 1.16% since June's hike. A December hike will bring it 1.42%. A hike in 2018 would then lift the effective average rate to 1.67%. The first Fed funds futures contract that has an implied yield at that level is March 2019.

What of the dollar? It hadsported a softer profile this week after reversing higher following the US jobs data at the end of last week when in our view, the market had nearly completely discounted a Dec rate hike, and the 10-year yield reached the upper end of its six-month trading range. We thought that the focus would shift back to the ECB from the US employment data. Perhaps, also contributing to the pullback in US yields are the concerns about the status of tax reform.

The euro is extending its four-day advance into today's session. The gains have carried it to the $1.1880, which corresponds to 50% of the drop since reaching almost $1.21 on September 8 and bottoming last Friday near $1.1670. The next retracement objective is near $1.1930. We anticipated this euro bounce and suspectedthat late longs are vulnerable to tomorrow's US CPI and retail sales report that will be impacted by the storm, andthe tight inventory/sales balances for some household goods. Again, we point out that while the September jobs report was skewed by the storm, the upward revision to August average hourly earnings was not.

The enthusiasm for Spanish assets is somewhat diminished today. The bonds are flat while European bonds are mostly firmer. The stock market is off, but holding up better than most other major European markets. Rajoy has taken a measured step in the face of Catalonian officials signing a declaration of independence and then many signing a decree suspending it. Rajoy has given officials until Monday morning to clarify their stance. And if they insist on claiming independence, they will be given another three day grace period to reconsider before Rajoy sets into motion the process that would force the Catalan administration out of office. Rajoy appears to have the opposition Socialists support. Rajoy did appear open to the Socialist proposal for a committee to be established to discuss regional powers, but not to enable a referendum for independence.

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About the author

Marc Chandler has been covering the global capital markets in one fashion or another for more than 25 years, working at economic consulting firms and global investment banks.

Officially, Marc Chandler is Global Head of Currency Strategy, Brown Brothers Harriman since October 2005. Previously he was the Chief Currency Strategist for HSBC Bank USA and Mellon Bank.

Opinions expressed are solely of the author’s, based on current market conditions, and are subject to change without notice. These opinions are not intended to predict or guarantee the future performance of any currencies or markets. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as research or as investment, legal or tax advice, nor should it be considered information sufficient upon which to base an investment decision. Further, this communication should not be deemed as a recommendation to invest or not to invest in any country or to undertake any specific position or transaction in any currency. There are risks associated with foreign currency investing, including but not limited to the use of leverage, which may accelerate the velocity of potential losses. Foreign currencies are subject to rapid price fluctuations due to adverse political, social and economic developments. These risks are greater for currencies in emerging markets than for those in more developed countries. Foreign currency transactions may not be suitable for all investors, depending on their financial sophistication and investment objectives. You should seek the services of an appropriate professional in connection with such matters. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not necessarily complete in its accuracy and cannot be guaranteed.

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