(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s pining for negative rates was widely panned on Wall Street where strategists and traders said such a move would be unjustified and extreme, and not advisable based on the experience in other countries.
Trump earlier on Wednesday called on the Federal Reserve to push down interest rates into negative territory, a move reluctantly used by other world central banks to battle weak economic growth that risks punishing savers and banks’ earnings in the process.
Here are some comments:
RANDY FREDERICK, VICE PRESIDENT OF TRADING AND DERIVATIVES FOR CHARLES SCHWAB IN AUSTIN
“Certainly the rates can go lower, we know that. We were at zero interest rates from 2008 all the way to 2015 so we know we can go back down to that level. So they can go to zero but what’s debatable is whether or not they can go negative.
“Certainly the economy at the moment does not justify such a move. You can argue that negative interest rates have not had the intended effect that the countries that have implemented them have wanted them to have to boost spending and inflation.
“It may not even result in the desired effect if it was done. We can’t say for sure whether it could or could not happen, it may not even be legal to do it. Certainly he wants it done but I’m not sure if it would be a good thing for the economy if it did happen.”
MARK LUSCHINI, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST AT JANNEY MONTGOMERY SCOTT IN PHILADELPHIA
“This is a continuation of the same theme of Trump applying more pressure on the central bank to become more accommodative, recognizing that other central banks around the world have gone to extreme non-conventional levels to try to reflate economic activity. He believes the United States would be better off having its interest rate policy look more like theirs.
“I don’t think the Fed is going to allow itself to be influenced by what President Trump is suggesting they should do. I think they’re going to continue to operate within their mandate ... at the level they believe is best suited to accomplish their goals.”
“If it was an environment where the Fed had to lower rates to zero or negative that would be contemporaneous to an economy that would be deteriorating to the point where it would be a very draconian situation ... I would think we’d be in or quickly approaching conditions that would be recessionary.”
ART HOGAN, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, NATIONAL SECURITIES, NEW YORK
“Most market participants would actually like to see interest rates where they are or perhaps higher because the reason for that would be stronger economic growth. The desire to have lower rates means you desire to have a worse economy and those things are just not mutually exclusive. If you think you should have zero interest rates you think your economy should be in shambles.
“The experiment of negative interest rates has certainly proved to be flawed in both the ECB and Japan and I certainly think it’s something the United States should probably try to avoid at all costs.”
PETER JANKOVSKIS, CO-CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT OAKBROOK INVESTMENTS LLC IN LISLE, ILLINOIS
“The market has to be ignoring that. I don’t think, certainly anybody in Europe, thinks negative rates is a good thing. Based on the lack of success that policy has had over there, I can’t see why we would want to emulate that. The best thing (the Fed) can do is just be quiet and do nothing.”
SHAHID LADHA, HEAD OF STRATEGY FOR G10 RATES AMERICAS, BNP PARIBAS, NEW YORK
“Negative fed funds is unlikely given the resistance to negative rates from current and past Fed members with little empirical experience that negative rates help escape deflation. Much more likely next time we reach the ZLB (zero lower bound) in the U.S. is balance sheet expansion.”
JON HILL, INTEREST RATE STRATEGIST, BMO CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK
“We’re taking zero policy signal from the President’s tweet this morning, and the market very much looked through it as well. That being said, we are entering a world where there is a lot of concern about monetary policy capacity and it makes sense to look at negative rates.
“The Fed has researched negative yields before and my understanding of the takeaway is that it’s possible, but that it doesn’t mean that they will necessarily go that route. Instead, what I’d expect is for them to cut to what they see as the effective lower bound, so put the target range as zero to 25 basis points or something, and then lean on other policy tools such as QE or forward guidance from there.
“I think a lot of the experience you’re seeing out of the ECB and Japan is that sure, interest rates can go negative, you can force rates to go negative, but it doesn’t mean that whatever economic benefit there may be is worth the costs to financial intermediation and stability.”
“The Fed has never implemented negative policy rates. There has been some negative trading in bills. If we go negative there are a whole host of things that have to be in place before that happens.”
“Right now the U.S. Treasury can’t auction bills that have negative rates. Obviously Treasury would have to adjust their rules to allow for negative bill auctions if the Fed goes negative. To me that’s a nice example of something incredibly in the weeds but needs to take place before the Fed went negative.”
Reporting by Karen Brettell, Chuck Mikolajczak, Alden Bentley, Sinead Carew, Medha Singh, Megan Davies; Compiled by Megan Davies; Editing by Andrea Ricci