A hard-landing recession is guaranteed as the full impact of Fed rate hikes have yet to hit the economy, Morgan Stanley’s chief economist says

Feb 28, 2024

Market crash graphic

Market crash graphicGetty Images

  • A hard landing is guaranteed for the US Morgan Stanley’s chief US economist.

  • That’s because the full impacts of Fed tightening haven’t been fully felt in the economy.

  • It could take 18 months after the last rate hike to feel the full weight of higher rates, economists say.

A hard-landing recession is certain to come for the economy, and high rates are to blame even as markets start positioning for the Federal Reserve to loosen monetary policy this year, according to Ellen Zentner, Morgan Stanley’s chief  US economist.

Speaking to CNBC on Monday, Zentner pointed to Jamie Dimon’s recent comments on the economy, where the JPMorgan boss warned that the chance of a soft landing was about half of the 70%-80% odds other forecasters were predicting. That’s due to a number of risks still facing the US, including the Fed’s tightening regime, geopolitical conflict, and interest rates, which central bankers have said could remain higher for longer.

Zentner is expecting the US to avoid a recession this year, as there’s no data to support a soon-to-come downturn. But a hard-landing is unavoidable she warned.

“We will have a hard landing at some point. I guarantee you that. We’re all wondering when does that come,” she said. “The point that Dimon makes is that there are these cumulative impacts that build over time, and we are in the camp that we haven’t seen all of the tightening impacts of monetary policy,” she added, referring to the impact of Fed rate hikes.

Fed officials raised interest rates a whopping 525 basis points in 18 months to tame inflation, a move that’s taken borrowing costs in the economy to their highest level since 2001.

Economists have warned high interest rates could spark a recession as financial conditions become restrictive, and the full impact of rate hikes likely hasn’t been felt, as they typically take around 18 months to fully work their way through the economy.

Signs of stress are beginning to show in parts of the financial system. Corporate defaults soared last year to their highest level since the pandemic, according to Moody’s Analytics. Bank lending has fallen for three straight quarters, according to Fed data.

Still, signs point to the Fed keeping interest rates elevated as it keeps an eye on inflation. Consumer prices came in hotter than expected last month, with inflation rising 3.1% year-over year in January.

Inflation will likely reaccelerate over the first quarter, Zentner predicted, pointing to the 3.9% growth in core inflation last month. That re-acceleration could show up in the next consumer price index report, which markets are expecting later this week.

“We do expect inflation acceleration to be temporary, but that is an open question,” Zentner said, adding that markets may now have to consider Fed rate cuts pushed beyond mid-year.

Investors had been pricing in ambitious rate cuts to come in 2024, but many forecasters have dialed back their expectations amid hot inflation data. Markets are now pricing in a 39% chance that the Fed could lower rates by 100 basis points or more by the end of the year, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Leave a comment