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As expected, the FOMC decided unanimously to keep rates unchanged (2.25 – 2.50%).  According to analysts at Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve now thinks that it will not need to tighten any further this year.

Key Quotes:  

“Today’s announcement was not without consequence. For starters, the committee downgraded its assessment of the economy, saying that “growth of economic activity has slowed from its solid rate in the fourth quarter.” More formally, the median FOMC member now forecasts that real GDP will grow 2.1% in 2019, which is down from the 2.3% rate that the median projected in December (the last time the forecast was made public).”

“Given this more sober forecast, the FOMC scaled back the amount of tightening that it believes will be necessary. In December, the median FOMC forecaster projected 50 bps of tightening in 2019 and another 25 bps rate hike in 2020. The median forecaster now believes that the FOMC will be on hold for the rest of 2019.”

“The committee made some decisions regarding its balance sheet. At present, the Fed is allowing a maximum of $30 billion of Treasury securities to roll off its balance sheet every month. Starting in May, the maximum amount of Treasury securities that will be allowed to roll off will be reduced to $15 billion per month. Starting in October the overall size of the balance sheet will remain unchanged, for an unspecified period of time.”

“Our most recent forecast, which was compiled earlier this month, looks for the Fed to hike rates 25 bps later this year. We then looked for the FOMC to remain on hold until the end of 2020, when we forecasted that it would cut rates 25 bps. Although another rate hike in 2019 is still possible, the FOMC’s announcement today means that the risk to our current forecast is skewed to the downside. We will continue to monitor incoming data to determine whether we need to adjust our forecast for the fed funds rate.”