Money Market

Taxable Money Market Commentary

Taxable Money Market Commentary
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Nonfarm payrolls snapped back from the surprisingly weak figure reported in February. The March release shows jobs jumping by 196,000, much more on trend than February’s revised gain of only 33,000. Average hourly earnings rose by only 0.1%, a disappointing gain given an unemployment rate of just 3.8%.

The Federal Reserve Board (the “Fed”) has moved off the financial pages and onto the political pages as President Donald Trump and his economic team have called for a halt to the Fed’s balance-sheet reduction as well as an immediate cut in the overnight federal funds rate. The Fed has a strong institutional culture of fierce independence and will continue to set monetary policy based upon the economic conditions at the time, but two new potential Fed board members could certainly change the dialogue, even if they can’t marshal the votes for actual policy changes.

The international picture is just as cloudy as it’s been for some time. Brexit seems to be in a Groundhog Day scenario of voting on the same issue numerous times with the same unsatisfactory result. The U.S. trade talks with China have also dragged on for some time and while it seems that progress is being made, it is unclear how enforceable any new major trade deal will be.

It is likely that first-quarter GDP will be below 2.0%. At the moment, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is forecasting a 1.4% growth rate for the quarter. Investors and the Fed will be closely watching to see if this is a temporary slowdown, as we have seen in previous first quarters, or if this is a more prolonged slowdown, which could prompt the Fed to take action.

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