Historic 100bp Cut From The Fed Today?

by: Kathy Lien

After surprising the markets with a 25bp discount rate cut on Sunday and extending the discount rate window to investment banks, the Federal Reserve is set to make another historic move by cutting interest rates 100bp today.

This would be the first time in over 23 years that the central bank has cut interest rates by more than 75bp during the single meeting, reflecting the severity of the current US economic situation.

In reaction to the Fed’s move, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan have also injected liquidity, but the Fed’s efforts have been futile thus far as banks refuse to take on more counterparty risk.

Bond yields are also down significantly. The 3 month T-bill rate fell to the lowest level in over 50 years while the 2 year treasury bond yield fell to the lowest level in 5 years.

This tells us that the Federal Reserve will need to cut interest rates by more than 100bp. In fact, futures traders already expect rates to come down to 1.25 percent by the end of June.

However, if Bernanke really wants to reassure the financial markets, he should cut by 150bp tomorrow and come up with more creative ways to prevent another liquidity crisis on top of that.

I say no more band-aids Bernanke, please give us a real solution!

Could the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 75bp tomorrow?

Yes, but as much as the market fears that another bank on Wall Street will collapse, Bernanke fears the consequences of under delivering. Unless he wants to cause the stock market to fall by another 300 points, he will cut interest rates by 100bp and the FOMC statement will remain dovish.

The need for further monetary easing and the uncertainty in the financial markets will continue to drive the US dollar lower, particularly against the Japanese Yen. Expect 200 to 300 pip days in the majors to become the norm.

Here is a snapshot of how economic data has changed since the last FOMC meeting: