There are increasing signs that this may be it for the current raising cycle.
There will be just one more interest rate rise from the US Federal Treasury Reserve in the current lifting cycle, and it will come in the fourth quarter of this year; that’s the latest consensus view on the future direction of interest rates, according to a Bloomberg survey of leading economists.
This is a decrease from the two rate rises that the economists were expecting when survey late last year. Back then, the economists expected that US interest rates would peak around the 3.25 percent level, now the economists are expecting a peak of 2.75 percent.
However, investors are even more sceptical than the economists surveyed by Bloomberg, with interest rate futures contracts pricing in a possibility of a FED rate cut this year.
The last meeting for the FED came during January, where they did not publish their “dot plot”, which details how they expect their future interest rate moves to progress; they did publish the dot plot in December however, with FED members suggesting that there could be five additional interest rate hikes by 2020.
This time around, it is likely that the FED dot plot will show an expected interest rate rise in 2019, followed by a second in 2020. Members have previously forecast a significant number of interest rate rises to combat an expected rise in inflation. However, despite years of low interest rates across the developed world – inflation continues to track at lower than expected levels. Additionally, economists are starting to decrease economic growth forecasts across the world, which is not a great environment for rising interest rates.
Domestically, the outlook for interest rates is even more dovish. In fact, Westpac predicts that our RBA will cut interest rates twice this year, reducing Australia’s record low cash rate target of 1.5 percent to just 1 percent, which they put down to the “likely negative wealth effect associated with falling house prices in Sydney and Melbourne”.
Domestic interest rate cuts were further supported by the Australian GDP numbers released on the 6th of March. The numbers show that on a per-capita basis, Australia is currently experiencing a recession. Given the per-capita decline in GDP, and large falls in Australia’s highly important property market, it is unsurprising that domestic interest rates are now expected to go lower.
10 years on from the end of the GFC and interest rates have barely lifted above crisis levels in the developed world, despite this – expected rises in inflation have not occurred – giving more scope for interest rates to be kept low. The big question now is what happens if global economic growth collapses with interest rates already at minimum levels?