Surprise! The Rate Cuts Are Here

|June 7, 2024
Image of the European Central Bank building

In the high-stakes game of central banking, policymakers like to portray their decisions as carefully planned and well-telegraphed.

But as any seasoned investor knows, these best-laid plans often go awry in the face of fast-changing economic conditions and market forces.

Case in point: the Federal Reserve’s recent shift away from quantitative tightening (QT).

While central bankers talked tough about reining in inflation, their resolve crumbled in the face of some unpleasant realities.

Unlike the so-called “experts,” we understand that central bankers are reactive, not proactive. They don’t set trends, they follow them (often too late). And their economic predictions and prescriptions are wrong as often as they’re right.

So while the mainstream media was fixated on central banks’ inflation-fighting rhetoric, I told my readers to prepare for the inevitable pivot…

And yesterday we learned that the European Central Bank would cut rates even while admitting that wages were still rising and inflation was picking up steam.

A head-scratcher to some, but not to us…

As I told Manward Money Report subscribers in their just released June issue (Not a subscriber? You should be!), the Federal Reserve beat the ECB to the punch by executing a “stealth cut” last month.

It did so by cutting back on the $60 billion it allowed to run off the balance sheet each month. Only $25 billion a month will run off starting June 1.

That means if $60 billion is supposed to run off the balance sheet in June, the Fed would replace $35 billion by buying bills, notes and bonds worth that much. If $100 billion runs off in July, the Fed would then buy $75 billion worth of government-issued debt.

This is huge…

Can’t Be Tamed

QT is supposed to withdraw liquidity and raise interest rates to tame inflation.

With QT, central banks aren’t in the market buying government bills, notes and bonds. Other buyers have to step up to buy government-issued debt. Those other buyers are a lot more price sensitive than central banks (who ultimately don’t care about price).

You’ll remember that following the global financial crisis of 2008, central banks embarked on unprecedented QE programs to support struggling economies and stabilize financial markets.

However, as economic conditions improved and inflationary pressures began to mount, policymakers had to tighten their policies to prevent overheating and curb inflation.

As inflation soared, the Fed, the ECB and the Bank of England each kicked off QT measures to unwind their bloated balance sheets.

By not replacing maturing securities on their balance sheets, central banks sought to put upward pressure on interest rates by forcing other buyers to step in and buy government debt.

Those buyers demand higher yields because they’re more price- and inflation-sensitive than central banks.

QT helped push rates higher in open markets as central banks raised rates.

But while central banks expected QT to lead to higher interest rates, the actual impact was more nuanced.

As bond yields rose and borrowing costs increased, the markets – especially bond markets – experienced crazy volatility, with implications for asset prices and economic growth.

Tighter monetary conditions also posed challenges for households and businesses in debt. It dampened consumer spending and investment.

Despite QT, central banks found themselves fighting stubborn inflationary pressures that defied conventional policy.

It was more than central bankers bargained for.

They’ve faced mounting pressure to loosen policies. And, of course, they can’t come out and announce a change in course without spooking the markets and losing credibility.

Hence the Fed’s “stealth rate cut”… by cutting back on QT.

The investment implications are huge.

Falling rates are jet fuel for stock prices, as my Manward Money Report subscribers well know. We’re sitting pretty with multiple positions primed to profit from this policy shift.

And I’ll be sharing some of my favorites with you right here.

Shah Gilani
Shah Gilani

Shah Gilani is the Chief Investment Strategist of Manward Press. Shah is a sought-after market commentator… a former hedge fund manager… and a veteran of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. He ran the futures and options division at the largest retail bank in Britain… and called the implosion of U.S. financial markets (AND the mega bull run that followed). Now at the helm of Manward, Shah is focused tightly on one goal: To do his part to make subscribers wealthier, happier and more free.