Prime Rate

also known as the Fed, National or United States Prime Rate,
from the interest-rate specialists at www.FedPrimeRate.comSM

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Futures Market Still Certain Fed Will Cut Short-Term Rates by At Least 50 Basis Points

In prepared testimony made before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs earlier today, Fed boss Ben Bernanke made it pretty clear that the Fed will be cutting short-term rates in the near future -- no surprise really. Here's a clip:

"...A critical task for the Federal Reserve over the course of this year will be to assess whether the stance of monetary policy is properly calibrated to foster our mandated objectives of maximum employment and price stability and, in particular, whether the policy actions taken thus far are having their intended effects. Monetary policy works with a lag. Therefore, our policy stance must be determined in light of the medium-term forecast for real activity and inflation, as well as the risks to that forecast. At present, my baseline outlook involves a period of sluggish growth, followed by a somewhat stronger pace of growth starting later this year as the effects of monetary and fiscal stimulus begin to be felt. At the same time, overall consumer price inflation should moderate from its recent rates, and the public's longer-term inflation expectations should remain reasonably well anchored.

Although the baseline outlook envisions an improving picture, it is important to recognize that downside risks to growth remain, including the possibilities that the housing market or the labor market may deteriorate to an extent beyond that currently anticipated, or that credit conditions may tighten substantially further. The FOMC will be carefully evaluating incoming information bearing on the economic outlook and will act in a timely manner as needed to support growth and to provide adequate insurance against downside risks."

As of right now, the fed funds futures market has odds at 74% that the Fed will cut the benchmark Fed Funds Target Rate by 50 basis points (0.50 percentage point) at or before the March 18 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) monetary policy meeting. A 26% minority in the futures market are betting that the Fed will cut short-term rates by 75 basis points at some point between now and March 18.


Summary of The Latest Odds

As of right now, the investors who trade in fed funds futures at the Chicago Board of Trade have odds at 100% (as implied by current pricing on contracts) that the FOMC will vote to lower the benchmark Federal Funds Target Rate by at least 50 basis points (0.50 percentage point) at or before the March 18TH, 2008 monetary policy meeting.


Summary of the Latest Prime Rate Forecast:
  • Current odds that the Prime Rate will be cut by at least 50 basis points at or before the March 18TH FOMC monetary policy meeting: 100% (certain)
  • NB: U.S. Prime Rate = (The Federal Funds Target Rate + 3)

The odds related to federal-funds futures contracts -- widely accepted as the best predictor of where the FOMC will take the benchmark Fed Funds Target Rate -- are constantly changing, so stay tuned for the latest odds.

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