Major central banks roundup
Global markets and policymakers alike are coalescing around the view that global inflation will likely remain elevated for the foreseeable future (“persistent,” not “transient” as previously hoped). However, the major DM central banks’ policy responses thus far have varied somewhat:
- The US Fed has pushed back against calls for a more rapid tapering process for its large-scale asset purchase program, as well as against the idea of beginning to hike interest rates sooner rather than later. However, Fed Chair Powell is keeping the Fed’s policy options open with regard to both the speed of tapering and the timing of rate hikes.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has decided to abandon or at least alter its yield curve control (YCC) target.
- In an attempt to allay markets, the European Central Bank (ECB) recently delivered a dovish “pushback” message to markets, albeit with only moderate success to date.
- The Bank of England (BOE) plans to embark on a rate-hiking cycle only after assessing the impact of the British government’s pandemic jobs support plan.
- The Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank have been laggards in market pricing of their rate-hiking intentions. Most other G10 banks are expected to start hiking by 2022.
As of this writing, our baseline “taper path” for the US Fed is that it will likely complete the winding down of its asset purchase program by around June 2022. The Fed has retained the option of adopting a faster pace of tapering if warranted, any further indication of which in the months ahead would validate the market’s latest forward-pricing expectations. (Currently, markets expect Fed rate hikes to begin next summer, followed by the next rate increase in November). The Fed has indicated its preference for a time gap between the end of tapering and its first rate hike, but again, flexibility is the watchword here. Should the recent acceleration in wage pressures prove to be “sticky,” for example, the Fed might have to change course.
At this juncture, we anticipate a modestly dovish outcome for the BOE’s policy trajectory. The BOE surprised markets recently by choosing not to raise interest rates, citing job market uncertainty and other factors. It also acknowledged that its ability to loosen policy in response to any future negative demand shocks will be hemmed in by the lower bound on rates, implying a “go gradual” approach to normalization.
Despite the fate of the RBA’s YCC target (see above), we think the market’s hawkish policy expectations, now priced into the front end of Australia’s yield curve, are slightly overdone. We maintain a favorable bias toward select Asia-Pacific duration markets, including Australia’s.