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Jerome Powell Signals Delayed Rate Cuts as Inflation Proves Stubborn

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The Federal Reserve’s decision to hold interest rates steady in the 5.25%-5.50% range during its May meeting has sent a clear signal to markets: the path to rate cuts may be longer than previously anticipated.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks following the meeting underscored the central bank’s concerns over recent disappointing inflation data, suggesting that bringing inflation down to the 2% target “will take longer than previously expected.”


TLDR

  • The Federal Reserve maintained interest rates in the 5.25%-5.50% range, signaling that rate cuts may be delayed due to recent disappointing inflation data.
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell emphasized that bringing inflation down to the 2% target “will take longer than previously expected” and expressed lower confidence in the forecast for inflation to fall over the course of the year.
  • The Fed’s stance has shifted from a more dovish tone in late 2023 to a hawkish one, with the possibility of rates remaining “higher for longer” until 2025.
  • Economic data, including sticky inflation, robust consumer spending, and low unemployment, support the Fed’s decision to maintain a restrictive monetary policy stance.
  • The Fed’s hawkish pivot has led to disappointment in risk assets like stocks and cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin expected to trade within a tight range below $70,000 until rates begin to come down.

This hawkish pivot marks a significant shift from the Fed’s stance in late 2023, when Powell first mentioned the possibility of rate cuts, sparking optimism among investors.

However, as economic data continues to show sticky inflation, robust consumer spending, and low unemployment, the Fed has been forced to maintain its restrictive monetary policy stance.

Some market commentators now believe that rates could remain “higher for longer” until 2025, despite the pressure of an imminent presidential election.

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauges, the PCE index and CPI index, have both shown signs of persistence, rising to 2.7% and 3.5%, respectively, in recent months.

This has been fueled by strong consumer spending, with the savings rate declining and household debt levels reaching record highs. Additionally, the unemployment rate has remained near historic lows, falling to 3.8% in March.

While the economy is showing signs of slowing down, with first-quarter GDP growth coming in below expectations at 1.6%, the data simply does not support a looser monetary policy stance at this time.

Powell has consistently emphasized that the Fed’s decisions will be driven by data alone, and the current economic landscape warrants continued caution.

As a result, risk assets like stocks and cryptocurrencies have been taking the Fed’s hawkish pivot badly.

Bitcoin, which had been trading between $60,000 and $65,000 in the lead-up to the FOMC meeting, is now expected to trade within a tight range below $70,000 until rates begin to come down.

This may prove to be a real anticlimax for those who had expected the Bitcoin halving to drive a bullish breakout to new all-time highs.

In the short term, Bitcoin is likely to mimic the behavior of other risk assets, as it has become deeply embedded in traditional financial markets due to the introduction of spot ETFs.

However, over the longer term, the Bitcoin investment thesis remains intact. As the U.S. dollar eventually weakens, Bitcoin could provide a refuge from currency devaluation, rewarding patient investors who can hold on to their assets through this period of uncertainty.

The post Jerome Powell Signals Delayed Rate Cuts as Inflation Proves Stubborn appeared first on Blockonomi.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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