PIVOT: Federal Reserve Signals Zero Rate Hikes in 2019

Posted on 03/20/2019


The Federal Reserve made a decision to hold interest rates steady and indicated that no more hikes will be coming for 2019. Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell addressed the media saying that the Chinese and European economies have slowed ‘substantially’. Despite low U.S. employment, Powell explained to the media that the U.S. has the lowest labor force participation rate among developed nations.

There were four interest rate hikes in 2018.

The Federal Reserve committee intends to conclude the reduction of its aggregate securities holdings in the System Open Market Account (SOMA) at the end of September 2019. Essentially, the Federal Reserve is ending quantitative tightening in September 2019. Furthermore, the committee intends to slow the reduction of its holdings of Treasury securities by reducing the cap on monthly redemptions from the current level of US$ 30 billion to US$ 15 billion beginning in May 2019.

In a March 20, 2019 statement called “Balance Sheet Normalization Principles and Plans”, a portion of it reads, “The Committee intends to continue to allow its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to decline, consistent with the aim of holding primarily Treasury securities in the longer run.

Beginning in October 2019, principal payments received from agency debt and agency MBS will be reinvested in Treasury securities subject to a maximum amount of $20 billion per month; any principal payments in excess of that maximum will continue to be reinvested in agency MBS.

Principal payments from agency debt and agency MBS below the $20 billion maximum will initially be invested in Treasury securities across a range of maturities to roughly match the maturity composition of Treasury securities outstanding; the Committee will revisit this reinvestment plan in connection with its deliberations regarding the longer-run composition of the SOMA portfolio.

It continues to be the Committee’s view that limited sales of agency MBS might be warranted in the longer run to reduce or eliminate residual holdings. The timing and pace of any sales would be communicated to the public well in advance.”

source: Federal Reserve website