United States Prime Rate

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

First FOMC Meeting of 2015 Adjourned: U.S. Prime Rate Continues At 3.25%

FOMC votes to leave short-term rates unchanged; US Prime Rate to continue at 3.25%The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve has just adjourned its first monetary policy meeting of 2015 and, in accordance with our most recent forecast, has voted to leave short-term interest rates at their current levels. Therefore, the benchmark target range for the federal funds rate will remain at 0% - 0.25%, and the Wall Street Journal® Prime Rate (a.k.a the U.S., national, WSJ or Fed Prime Rate) will continue at the current 3.25%.

Here's a clip from today's FOMC press release (note text in bold):

"...Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in December suggests that economic activity has been expanding at a solid pace.  Labor market conditions have improved further, with strong job gains and a lower unemployment rate.  On balance, a range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources continues to diminish.  Household spending is rising moderately; recent declines in energy prices have boosted household purchasing power.  Business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow.  Inflation has declined further below the Committee’s longer-run objective, largely reflecting declines in energy prices.  Market-based measures of inflation compensation have declined substantially in recent months; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.  The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators continuing to move toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.  The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced.  Inflation is anticipated to decline further in the near term, but the Committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent over the medium term as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of lower energy prices and other factors dissipate.  The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate.  In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress--both realized and expected--toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation.  This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.  Based on its current assessment, the Committee judges that it can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy.  However, if incoming information indicates faster progress toward the Committee’s employment and inflation objectives than the Committee now expects, then increases in the target range for the federal funds rate are likely to occur sooner than currently anticipated.  Conversely, if progress proves slower than expected, then increases in the target range are likely to occur later than currently anticipated.

The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.  This policy, by keeping the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.

When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.  The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Charles L. Evans; Stanley Fischer; Jeffrey M. Lacker; Dennis P. Lockhart; Jerome H. Powell; Daniel K. Tarullo; and John C. Williams..."

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Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Prime Rate Forecast: Current Odds On Rate Increase for October At 64%

Prime Rate Forecast - Predictions - www.FedPrimeRate.com
Prime Rate Forecast - Predictions
Yep, borrowers, and those with debt, have been enjoying the lowest possible US Prime Rate (3.25%) since December 2008, the peak of the global financial crisis.

A rather secular stretch for sure.

But it looks like the Fed is going to end the super-low-interest-rate party in the fall of this year.

Current odds that the Fed will raise the Prime Rate to at least 3.5% at the October 28 FOMC monetary policy meeting are at 64%, with odds of it happening at the December 16 meeting at 75%.

Hard to Stoke Inflation with Low Oil Prices

Right now, WTI light sweet crude oil, for future delivery, is trading at $45.15 per barrel in New York.  It was $97.49 on January 31, 2014.

Great news for most of us, but there are many on Wall Street who are not happy with this.

Wall Street wants short-term interest rates, and inflation, to rise, and reasonable energy prices throws a heavy spanner into the Fed's reflation works.

The Fed wants inflation at 2%, but with current energy prices, the FOMC may have to wait longer than anticipated to attain that inflation goal.


Venezuela is hating current crude prices.  Their crude-oil-entitlement economy is extremely entrenched, and the government would have institute major reforms to fix that culture (not likely!)

The Saudis, on the other hand,  are happy that oil is cheap.  Saudi King Abdullah died recently, but his successor will continue with his policy of keeping production high, despite a global glut.

Smart.  Why?  When crude was $100+ per barrel, America responded with fracking, buying efficient cars like turbo-diesels, hybrids and full electrics, and a general desire to reduce drastically dependence on foreign oil.  Not good for the Saudi oil economy, in the long term.  The Saudi want us to return to driving Hummers and Ford Expeditions.


Is Janet Yellen Strong Enough to Resist Wall Street?

Back in mid-2011, when the European Central Bank (ECB), under the leadership of Jean-Claude Trichet, made the huge mistake of raising short-term rates in the eurozone before an economic recovery was solid -- BANG!  The unemployment rate in the euro area shot up like a rocket.  Believe it!

If Fed boss Dr. Janet Yellen makes the same mistake and starts raising rates here while many middle-class, American households are still dealing with the affects of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession, watch how quickly our fragile economic recovery goes BOOM here too.

Current ECB boss Dr. Mario Draghi just sent a clear message to the world by instituting a massive quantitative easing program (printing money out of thin air and using it to buy debt): The euro area is in really bad economic shape, and needs very serious help to stave off deflation.

This, of course, caused the euro to fall against the dollar, making goods produced in the eurozone more competitive here in the USA.  This translates to downward pressure on American Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and jobs.

Hope you have the right priorities Dr. Yellen...Really hope.


Summary of the Latest Prime Rate Forecast:

As of right now, the investors who trade in fed funds futures at the CME Group have odds at 64% (as implied by current pricing on contracts) that the FOMC will vote to raise the benchmark Federal Funds Target Rate by at least 25 basis points (0.25 percentage point) at the October 28TH, 2015 monetary policy meeting.

  • Current odds that the Prime Rate will rise by at least 25 basis points at the July 29TH, 2015 FOMC monetary policy meeting: 31%
  • Current odds that the Prime Rate will rise by at least 25 basis points at the September 17TH, 2015 FOMC monetary policy meeting: 44%
  • Current odds that the Prime Rate will rise by at least 25 basis points at the December 16TH, 2015 FOMC monetary policy meeting: 75%
  • NB: US 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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