January 2024 – Monthly Commentary

With February upon us it may seem odd to revisit the December open market meeting, but the January employment report and the recent 60 Minutes interview of Chairman Powell has us wondering, “what were they thinking?” What we refer to was the dot-plot indicating three rate cuts this year. We’ve never been in favor of the Fed publicly forecasting their expected course of action and this is exactly why. After leaving the overnight rate unchanged for two consecutive meetings, bond investors assumed by their lack of action that they were probably done with the rate hikes. But rate cuts weren’t really on anyone’s radar. Speculation started to creep into the market in November as managers anticipated that we had reached the peak in rates, but the Fed’s communication caused a sharp drop in interest rates across the yield curve. That narrative unleashed a torrent of buying that sent the 5-year note from just a shade under 5% all the way down to 3.8%.