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Last week the Fed raised the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point. I think they did the right thing, although they face a considerable challenge.

There are initial signs that banking turmoil achieved what Fed’s hawkish rhetoric couldn’t: tighter credit financial conditions. As Powell said, “it doesn't all have to come from rate hikes, it can come from tighter credit conditions.”

The Fed raised the fed funds rate by 25 bps but struck a more dovish tone. The updated “dot plot” forecasts just one more hike this year, with the median fed funds rate peaking at 5.1%.

The Fed will stick to its resolve to bring inflation down with a 25bp hike but will signal more uncertainty on future decisions.

Futures markets now expect a 5.50% peak for the fed funds rate by mid-year, but still anticipate a rapid easing cycle in 2024.

Currently, the big question in international financial markets is how much more the United States Federal Reserve (the Fed) will have to raise the monetary policy rate and when it will be able to start a cycle of cuts.

As expected, the Fed kicked off the year by downshifting again its tightening pace with a 25bp hike, pushing the fed funds rate into a 4.50-4.75% target range, its highest level since late 2007 when the Fed made the first rate cut amid the outbreak of the global financial crisis.

Chair Powell will likely insist that rates are still not yet “sufficiently restrictive” in an attempt to avoid an unwelcome further downshift in the yield curve and an unjustified easing of broad financial conditions.

The Fed is attempting to reverse this downshift saying it is set to keep policy “sufficiently restrictive for some time”. Next week, the FOMC will agree to slow rate hikes again and will discuss how much further to go.

However, the Fed is not convinced that inflation is “on a sustained downward path”, and thus, it will try to reverse the recent downshift of the yield curve.

FOMC shifts down from 75bp hikes by raising the fed funds rate by 50 bps to a 4.25-4.50% target range, but signals a more hawkish outlook, keeping an eye on non-housing core services inflation for signals of labor market rebalancing.

In spite of positive inflation data and signs since the last meeting, to avoid an unwanted further decline in interest rates along the yield curve, Chair Powell will likely accompany the FOMC decision with a still relatively hawkish press conference.