Rate-lifting in the US. And why it matters for the UK

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Rate-lifting in the US. And why it matters for the UK Rupert Seggins & Marcus Wright RBS Economics (@RBS_Economics) September 2015

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Before the FOMC meeting, markets put a 64% chance on the first rate rise happening this year 2 But too much focus on this misses a bigger point. US rates could stay lower for longer. ‘Lower for longer’ doesn’t necessarily mean interest rates cannot go up. It can also mean central banks trying to raise rates a little, before seeing them forced back down soon after. Source: Bloomberg. *Blank entries are months in which there is no FOMC meeting

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Some traditional rules of thumb say rates should have risen already 3 Source: Macrobond, Mankiw (2001), Wu & Xia (2014). Mankiw rule estimated using period 1990-2008. About 2.5%

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4 Source: Bloomberg There is about a 1-in-4 chance that US rates won’t have risen beyond 0.5% by mid-2018 And even if the Fed follows the central expectation, rate rises will be very gradual. Over-focussing on the first rise misses the bigger picture.

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5 Why lower for longer?

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Four things making the Fed think twice 6 Inflation is below target Inflation expectations are stable Above average underemployment Earnings growth is not surging Source: Macrobond, Bloomberg

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Source: Macrobond, Bloomberg China is a big disinflationary force for the world Chinese export price inflation explains a lot of what’s going on at the moment Cheap goods from China were a key factor in the pre-crisis world of low inflation, low interest rates and increased risk-taking. They still are. China’s slowdown has so far led to a drop in oil and raw materials prices and a world trade recession. Both mean less inflation for us.

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Source: Financial Stability Board, Macrobond, Bloomberg Quantitative easing is going to continue in Europe and Japan Central banks are keeping rates down by buying up government bonds (Quantitative Easing or QE). While QE may have come to an end in the US and the UK, the European Central Bank will be carrying on until Autumn 2016. The Bank of Japan’s programme is open-ended.

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9 Source: Bloomberg, Macrobond Recent history may worry the Fed Of the OECD central banks that raised rates after 2008, all have either lowered or begun to lower them again

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10 Why is this important for UK interest rates?

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The Fed & The Bank of England – peas in a pod 11 Source: Macrobond This is not surprising considering: 1) how much UK trade and finance goes to the US and back 2) the US’ position at the centre of the world financial system.

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US borrowing costs influence UK ones 12 Source: Macrobond Whatever the Bank of England does, many of our interest rates could be affected anyway. For example, UK government bond yields track US yields closely.

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