Tags: Gross | Fed | inflation | rates

Pimco's Gross: Fed Will Use Inflation as Justification to Keep Short-Term Rates Near Zero

By    |   Friday, 14 March 2014 07:33 AM

The Federal Reserve, whose policymaking arm meets next Tuesday and Wednesday, will shift its emphasis to inflation from unemployment, as it justifies keeping short-term interest rates near zero, says Bill Gross, chief investment officer of Pimco.

The Fed's federal funds rate target stands at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent.

In its January policy statement, the Fed said it would likely keep the target at that level "well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6.5 percent."

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But with the rate already at 6.7 percent, that guidance may lead investors to wrongly conclude that the Fed will raise rates soon, central bank officials acknowledge. So they are expected to adjust their guidance at next week's meeting.

Gross, who has said the Fed won't raise rates until 2016, told MarketWatch that Janet Yellen, in her first meeting as Fed chair, will implement a new policy model.

"Janet Yellen's optimal control model will get its first exposure next week, a model which will stress low inflation and de-emphasize employment," Gross predicted.

Consumer prices rose 1.6 percent in the year through January.

He also believes the Fed will continue to taper its quantitative easing.

"The 'taper' will continue until exhausted in late October," Gross told MarketWatch.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Fed President John Williams expressed optimism about the economy in an interview with The New York Times.

"I expect 2.5 to 3 percent growth this year," he said. "I think trend is only about 2 percent right now, so I expect the unemployment rate to keep coming down this year and next year. We've continued to make good progress."

The economy grew 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

"As the labor market improves, I am expecting inflation to drift back up toward 1.5 and 2 percent over the next few years. If inflation stays around 1 percent then there's something else going on and clearly we'll have to re-examine that."

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The Federal Reserve, whose policymaking arm meets next Tuesday and Wednesday, will shift its emphasis to inflation from unemployment, as it justifies keeping short-term interest rates near zero, says Bill Gross, chief investment officer of Pimco.
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Friday, 14 March 2014 07:33 AM
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