Tags: Paulsen | dollar | oil | Fed

Wells Capital's Paulsen: Dollar Slump, Oil Rally Could Spur Fed to Action on Rates

By    |   Friday, 24 April 2015 06:20 AM

The Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, has slipped 2.4 percent from last month's 12-year high, and oil has rebounded 34 percent from last month's six-year trough.

If that trend continues, the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates a lot more quickly than expected, in a "panic tightening," James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, told CNBC.

Many economists anticipate the Fed will begin increasing rates in September. It has kept its federal funds rate target at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008.

"I sort of suspect the dollar is peaking as we speak, and crude is bottoming," Paulsen noted.

"You get a weak dollar, a jump in commodities prices, unemployment heads toward 5 percent, wage pressures show up even more, all at the same time. Then boy, I think the slow and steady [Fed] exit goes out the window."

Paulsen said that would confirm his forecast for a flat, volatile stock market this year.

"I just think we're going to have a little turbulence in dealing with this. After the mother of all monetary easing cycles, if we're exiting that finally, I still find it difficult we're going to just skate right through that without any turbulence," he explained.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we get better economic reports here in the next quarter and the market [S&P 500] runs up towards 2,200, but then I think I wouldn't also be surprised if that brings rate fears and overheat fears and maybe we see a market below 1,900 before the year is out as well. So just a volatile, kind of frustrating year is what I anticipate."

Washington Post reporter Matt O'Brien doesn't see the Fed moving quickly. While the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent last month, the lowest since 2008, the labor market still faces a major problem, he wrote.

That problem is shadow unemployment, which includes those who want full-time jobs but have either given up looking for them or can only find part-time work.

O'Brien cited research from economists Danny Blanchflower and Andrew Levin showing the shortfall between how many full-time jobs we have and how many we need totals 3.5 million.

"That's why it could be awhile — and it'd be a mistake if it isn't — before the Federal Reserve raises rates from zero," he noted.

"It makes sense to keep rates at zero until wages are rising," O'Brien stated. Average hourly wages climbed only 2.1 percent in the 12 months through March.

Ace bank analyst Dick Bove of Rafferty Securities also thinks the Fed will stay on hold for a while.

"Expectations that the Fed will raise rates in September or even June are off the mark," he told Yahoo. "The dollar is simply too strong. It's having a significant impact on the earnings of international companies across the board and it's having an impact on the trade balance."

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The Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, has slipped 2.4 percent from last month's 12-year high, and oil has rebounded 34 percent from last month's six-year trough.
Paulsen, dollar, oil, Fed
487
2015-20-24
Friday, 24 April 2015 06:20 AM
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