- Fed may have to hike to 5% or 6% as inflation now structural
The US economy may need to undergo a deeper and longer recession than investors currently anticipate before inflation can be brought under control, according to Zoltan Pozsar of Credit Suisse Group AG.
Markets expect the surge in consumer prices will soon peak and central banks will become less hawkish, but there’s a high risk that global cost pressures will remain elevated, Pozsar, global head of short-term interest-rate strategy at Credit Suisse in New York, wrote in a client note.
The world is being wracked by an economic war that’s undermining the deflationary relationships that have prevailed in recent decades where Russia and China supplied cheap goods and services to more developed nations such as the US and those in Europe, he said.
“War is inflationary,” Pozsar wrote. “Think of the economic war as a fight between the consumer-driven West, where the level of demand has been maximized, and the production-driven East, where the level of supply has been maximized to serve the needs of the West.” That pattern held “until East-West relations soured, and supply snapped back,” he said.
The result is that inflation is now a structural problem, rather than a cyclical one. Supply disruptions have arisen from the changes in Russia and China, along with tighter labor markets due to immigration restrictions and a reduction in mobility caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Pozsar said.
There’s now a risk the Federal Reserve under Chair Jerome Powell has to raise interest rates to 5% or 6% and keep them there to create a substantial and sustained reduction of aggregate demand to match the tighter supply profile, he said.
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Pozsar’s warning that inflation will stay elevated puts him at odds with the Treasury market, which rallied last month as investors switched their focus to recession risks from inflation concern. While an economic slowdown typically weighs on consumer prices, the latest annual US inflation reading of 9.1% for June remains far above the Fed’s 2% goal, although the price surge is forecast to slow for the first time in three months to 8.8% in July according to a Bloomberg poll of economists.
The bond market is more misguided now than at any other time this year as traders wager the US central bank will start cutting rates in early 2023, Bloomberg Economics’ chief US economist Anna Wong and her colleagues said this week. Money markets are wagering on almost one percentage point of hikes by year-end followed by a quarter-point cut by June.
“Interest rates may be kept high for a while to ensure that rate cuts won’t cause an economic rebound (an ‘L’ and not a ‘V’), which might trigger a renewed bout of inflation,” Pozsar wrote in his note. “The risks are such that Powell will try his very best to curb inflation, even at the cost of a ‘depression’ and not getting reappointed.”
Speaking of “recession,” the US Treasury 10Y-2Y yield curve has inverted even further to -31.69 BPS.