Tags: Joel Naroff | Federal Reserve | Economy | Easing

Naroff to Moneynews: Fed 'Slowly Taking Its Foot off the Gas Pedal'

By Dan Weil and David Nelson   |   Thursday, 20 Jun 2013 08:25 PM

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments about a possible end to the Fed's quantitative easing have sparked a surge in interest rates that could double the 10-year Treasury's yield, but that move is likely to take more than two years, says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

The note's yield hit a 22-month high of 2.47 percent Thursday, up sharply from 1.66 percent May 2.

Still, Naroff told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview that the Fed's impending move may not be as jarring as many investors apparently fear. "The Fed right now has the pedal to the metal," he said. "And sometime at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, they're going to start a slow process of taking their foot off the pedal."

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Editor's Note: Know the story behind the numbers: Forecaster Joel Naroff provides timely, expert analysis of key economic data for Financial Braintrust Alliance members.Visit www.fbtalliance.com for more information and to sign up.

But a tapering of QE doesn't mean an end to Fed easing, Naroff says. "They're going to continue to roll over all of the bonds that mature, keep re-investing."

Bernanke himself used the gas-pedal analogy. He was trying to "get people to understand that they're not moving from the gas pedal to the brake," Naroff said. "They're just slowly taking their foot off the gas pedal. That's a big difference. The markets didn’t get that."

The Fed is currently buying $85 billion of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities a month. Bernanke said in his press conference Wednesday that if the economy grows as the Fed expects, the central bank will likely curb its purchases later this year and end them around the middle of 2014.

Fed policymakers' "central tendency" projections foresee growth of 2.3-2.6 percent this year and 3-3.5 percent next year. To be sure, there's a good chance the Fed will be wrong on that, Naroff said.

Editor’s Note: Put the World’s Top Financial Minds to Work for You

The stock market's plunge Wednesday and Thursday reflects "the vast room there is for rates to rise," he said.

"People forget a 1.6 percent yield on a 10-year [Treasury] is extraordinarily low. We need to get to probably 5 percent or higher to get to more normal rates. So there's a lot to run. ... We're going up on rates. The question is how fast, not how far."

Naroff stressed that it's going to take some time for the 10-year yield to reach 5 percent. That level "is a long way off," he said. "Five percent is a normal interest rate when fed funds are normal, and that could be 4.5 percent."

The federal funds rate target now stands at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent, and there's no indication the Fed will raise it anytime soon.

"The Fed's not going to start raising interest rates before the middle to the end of next year, and it could take 18 months to get there. So we're 2 1/2 years from now before we might get to 4 or 5 percent on the 10-year."

Naroff says Bernanke indicated plainly that no drastic policy change is coming. "What he wanted to make it clear is that the Fed was not going to be reducing its balance sheet," rather it will still add to its balance sheet.

Editor’s Note: Put the World’s Top Financial Minds to Work for You

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