Hatzius: September rate hike “sensible in the base case “, “but less than optimal on risk management grounds”

June 2, 2015 9:44 pm

A few excerpts from a research piece by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius: A September Hike: Sensible in the Base Case, Premature on Risk Management Grounds

The monetary policy path in the March “dot plot”, which implies rate hikes starting at the September FOMC meeting, is consistent with the implications of a Taylor 1999 rule with a focus on broad labor market slack. To , this looks like sensible policy in the FOMC’s base case for the economy (which is broadly similar to our own at this point).

Nevertheless, we think the risk management case for delaying the first hike until 2016 remains persuasive. There is substantial uncertainty around the economic outlook, the equilibrium funds rate, and the true amount of labor market slack. This uncertainty has asymmetric effects on optimal monetary policy, and generally favors waiting.

Meanwhile, we are unconvinced by the main risk management arguments that are typically deployed in favor of an earlier liftoff than implied by the baseline economic scenario, which include financial stability concerns, worries about “falling behind the curve”, and a desire to test the machinery of exit.

For now, our forecast remains that the FOMC will hike rates at the September FOMC meeting. But our discussion today reinforces our existing view that this remains a close call.

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