The economic universe’s collective jaw dropped this afternoon when the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announced there would be no taper on the Fed’s large-scale asset purchasing program.
The Fed also released its report on economic projections, which included the FOMC participants’ initial forecasts for the target federal funds rate in 2016.
Currently, Chairman Ben Bernanke said the federal funds rate would stay at its current level of 0-0.25%. The overwhelming major of participants (12) expect the first rate hike to come in 2015. But three see it coming as early as 2014 and two as late as 2016.
In this chart, you can see where each participant sees rates heading. In the longer run, the Fed agrees rates should be at 4%. For 2016, there’s no clear consensus (though the target is closer to the 2-3% range).
This is largely in line with expectations. Goldman Sachs’ Jan Hatzius and Deutsche Bank’s Joe Lavorgna expected the consensus to be around 2.25%. SocGen’s Aneta Markowska was looking for 2.75%-3%.
“[E]ach shaded circle indicates the value (rounded to the nearest 1/4 percentage point) of an individual participant’s judgment of the appropriate level of the target federal funds rate at the end of the specified calendar year or over the longer run,” explained the Fed.