The financial markets have moved from pricing in 50 basis point increases in the Federal Reserve’s target interest rate at the May 4 and June 15 meetings to considering the possibility that the Fed will increase rates by 75 basis points in June and July.
A 25 basis point increase is “business-as-usual” for a Fed tightening. 50 basis points at a pop (it takes 100 basis points to make up 1 percentage point) would be very aggressive, but comments from Fed chair Jerome Powell this week certainly put a move of that size on the table.A pair of 50 basis point increases would be the sharpest move by the Fed since January 1982 when the Volcker Fed was fighting to control double-digit inflation. The last 50 basis point interest rate increase was in May 2000.
Which in turn–because this is the way Wall Street works–led Nomura Securities to say it now expects the Fed to increase benchmark interest rates by 75 basis points at both the June and July meetings. That would come, the bank’s projects, after a 50 basis point increase in May.
The CME Fed Watch Tool, which calculates the odds of Fed moves by looking at prices in the Fed Funds futures market, now puts the odds of a 25 basis point increase in the Fed’s benchmark interest rates at the May 4 meeting at 97.6%. That’s up from odds of 63.9% on March 22. A 25 basis point move would take the Fed’s benchmark to 0.75 to 1.00% from the current 0.50% to 0.75%.
The Fed Watch Tool is now showing 80.9% odds on a 75 basis point increase at the June 15 meeting to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%. Those odds are up from from 0% on March 22.
And for the July 27 meeting, the odds are now 77.7% for another 50 basis point increase to 2.00 to 2.25%.
This would constitute a huge and very fast increase from current interest rates of 0.50% to 0.75%.
No wonder stocks are plunging.
And the markets don’t believe this summer’s move would be the end of the cycle. U.S. markets now expect 2.43 percentage points of rate hikes from May’s level by the Fed’s December meeting.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury was down 1 basis point to 2.89% today. The 5-year yield climbed above the 10-year yield at 2.93%.