A key Fed meeting this week will likely be one of the last time policymakers discuss their plan for raising interest rates, even as the Trump administration tries to ease monetary policy.
But that hasn’t stopped analysts from forecasting the Fed’s next meeting to include some of the biggest policy changes since its last hike in late 2016.
“The Fed’s meeting this spring is likely to be the last in the foreseeable future, so the Fed may be more open to raising rates this year, if there is a significant change in economic conditions, such as an increase in consumer spending,” said Peter Dorn, senior economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
“In other words, if the economy is recovering and the unemployment rate has declined, it could be a little easier for the Fed to raise rates again this year.”
Trump and Bernanke may be in a position to reverse course on monetary policy once Trump’s tax reform package is finalized, according to an economist at JPMorgan Chase.
“Trump has said he wants to reduce the Fed rate to zero and to allow for more aggressive monetary policy in the future,” said Adam Levie, senior economic analyst at JPMorgan.
“So the likelihood is that the Fed could continue to tighten its purse strings, which is why they will probably make more aggressive moves on monetary policies.”
Bernanke is also likely to push to tighten financial conditions, as the Fed has signaled it would begin easing its monetary policy and to begin reducing its bond purchases.
“If Trump were to reverse the current course, it would likely result in a gradual tightening of monetary policy,” Levie said.
“However, if he reverses the current policy trajectory, there is still some time left before the Fed is likely again to be ready to start raising rates.”
The Fed will likely start raising interest rate rates again at its next meeting on March 16, 2018, but there is no timeline yet on when that meeting will occur.
Trump will likely push to ease policies after the first quarter of 2019.
“We should expect the Fed at the March 16 meeting to move back toward the neutral interest rate range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent,” said David Kamin, senior market analyst at IG.
“And, if Trump is successful in making the tax reform deal, we should expect to see the Fed raise rates as well.”
But, if Bernanke decides to ease policy in 2019, he will likely not be able to achieve that goal.
“That will require the Fed, by the end of 2019, to be in neutral interest rates at 0.75 percent,” Kamin said.