The Fed has raised rates for the fourth time this year, but have cut their guidance on future rate hikes. Anthony Okolie talks with Derek Burleton, Deputy Chief Economist, TD Bank Group.
Derek, the Fed raised interest rates today. What's your take on this?
Well, we expected them to raise rates. I think we were certainly looking for signals about where we go beyond today's quarter-point rate increase. And what we saw was a Fed that looks like they're going to look at 2019 with a little bit more tame eyes in terms of upward move in interest rates.
The median Fed rate projection for next year went from three rate hikes down to two rate hikes. The Fed cut back its forecasts on growth. It's looking at inflation that's a little bit lower than it thought three months ago. And just the verbiage in the statement was very much a Fed that's going to be data dependent.
They're going to monitor events. Something they hadn't stressed, but in today's statement, explicitly saying they will monitor economic events as they come to pass, and as well that they're only looking at some further gradual increase in interest rates rather than gradual increase in rates.
So it's clearly, the Fed's off autopilot. They're certainly sensitive to some of the downside risks in the economy right now. And though rates still look like they're headed higher, not as much as we would have thought a few months ago.
And where do you see US interest rates, going forward?
Well, today's move we had built in already into our December forecast. We had three further interest rate increases by the Fed over the next year. That's now two. We've got quarter-point increases in the second and third quarters of next year. I think in the short term, they'll probably take a bit of a pause, given some of the negative momentum heading into the year.
We do expect growth to slow into Q1. They'll take a pause, then they'll hike rates a little bit. But I think, that said, I think what they're signaling today is that the long exit from the crisis, they've now raised rates up to about 2 and 1/2%. They're almost done. And that's consistent with both their messaging and our forecast at TD.
And there's been a lot talk about the slowing global growth. What are some of the headwinds that the Fed should be concerned about, going forward?
Well, the big thing is the US is a part of, it's the trade risks, the trade policy risks. Right now, we're seeing the US and China trying to work through a negotiated settlement. There's a temporary impasse there. The US government had planned to raise tariff rates from 10% to 25%.
That's been delayed at least to March to give them time, hopefully, to work out a deal. But it is going to be a delicate thing to achieve. So that's still a big risk. I think, just generally, a negative growth momentum globally as we end the year. We had the growth, the world economy growing at 4% to start 2018. It's now looking at under 3 and 1/2% year-over-year to end the year.
And we've marked down our global growth forecast. And it's really the advanced economies, some challenges in emerging markets. So there's no one isolated economy.
And the third thing would be Brexit, a lot of uncertainty around the Brexit situation. And that's certainly been making waves of late.
And finally, what does this mean for the US dollar, going forward?
Well, that's a tough one to pin down. In other words, I don't think there was anything surprising today. I think it would have been built in. All things equal, a lower US rate profile is negative for the US dollar. But the fact of the matter is, they're lowering their growth projections, in part, because of weakness everywhere.
And I think just expectations on central banks to remove some of the accommodative monetary policy have been pushed back. So I see it being a neutral. I think, all things equal, we have the US dollar holding its high level for another couple of quarters until we, hopefully, get through some of the headwinds, the global economy things settle down.
Then I think the US dollar will probably pull back a little bit. And the Canadian dollar we see remaining quite soft until the US dollar pulls back. So I expect the Canadian dollar to end the year higher than it is now, closer to $0.80. But I see it remaining in the $0.75, $0.76 range in the short run.
Derek, thank you very much for your time.