- The Federal Reserve has doubled the pace of tapering to $30 billion.
- Median Fed forecasts show three hikes in 2022, higher than expected.
- An open door to a hike in March could further boost the dollar.
This is what it sounds like when the doves cry – monetary policy was unlikely on Prince's mind, but his famous 1980s song reflects the Federal Reserve's decision as it confronts 1980s-style inflation. The Fed expects three rate hikes in 2022. That is more than expected and a sharp hawkish shift from September.
The dot plot comes on top of the expected policy announcement – a doubling of the taper pace from $15 to $30 billion. With current bond-buying standing at $90 billion, the announcement implies the Fed would conclude the process in March.
"Beware the Ides of March" – a warning to Julius Ceasar over 2,000 years ago is relevant for 2022 when the Fed could raise rates, contrary to pre-decision estimates of a 67% chance of a hike in May.
Inflation could still fall in the next three months, amid easing in supply chains and falling oil prices. However, the mere threat of a hike in March will likely keep the dollar bid through year-end – enjoying a Santa Rally of sorts.
Markets could practice caution around Fed Chair Jerome Powell's press conference, but when the dust settles, the greenback could gain further ground.
What about stocks? The initial reaction is positive, as investors are trained in "buying the dip." Even if shares suffer some jitters, the urge to buy shares of companies making money could outweigh the fears of higher rates. Moreover, the Fed could be seen as giving inflation a good fight, thus providing stability. Stocks love stability.
Overall, the dollar could gain ground while the stocks could struggle before advancing.
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