The prospects of a rate hike by the Fed are looking increasingly shaky and downright laughable, not just because the start to 2015 for the US economy has been the worst in “negative surprises” terms since Lehman, or because the Atlanta Fed Q1 real-time GDP forecast is about to go negative (consensus originally expected this print to be 3.5% if not higher), but because the last time this happened, the Fed launched QE2.
What is “this“? Bank of America explains.
Trimmed mean measures of inflation had appeared stable when cited by some FOMC participants in the January minutes, supporting the idea that soft inflation largely reflected transitory factors. But, the 12-month change in the Dallas Fed’s trimmed mean PCE measure has dropped below 1.5% after running between 1.6 and 1.7% for much of 2014. The annualized 3-month change, illustrates how sudden and sharp the deterioration has been. The last time this measure was so weak was in early 2010, when persistently low inflation helped convinced the Fed to launch QE2 later that year.
So add tumbling personal consumption expenditures (but… but… plunging gas prices are unambiguously good) to the list of items the Fed will sternly refuse to observe as it moves from “patient” to “impatient”, if as so many now expect, it starts hiking interest rates as soon as June.