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PIMCO’s Harley Bassman has joined the group of Wall Street strategists who think the recent stock market volatility is exactly the trigger that should prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this week.
Writing for PIMCO on Monday, Bassman used a long analogy involving the New York subway system to argue that basically, what people — and by extension investors — really hate is uncertainty.
In his piece on Monday, Bassman wrote that people love knowing when their next subway train is coming, and Bassman thinks markets, which have been highly unsettled, are waiting for their own figurative subway train in the form of a Fed rate hike and will be much happier once they know what the Fed is doing.
“Think about it,” Bassman wrote, “A 0% interest rate likely has little positive value and a 0.25% higher rate has little negative value, but the uncertainty, the anxiety of not hiking is significantly bothersome to all as this topic absorbs all the oxygen in the room — frankly, Hamlet debated less.”
On Sunday we highlighted commentary from Stephen Stanley at Amherst Pierpont who said the recent volatility is not a reason for the Fed to hold off on raising rates on Thursday. Stanley’s argument, like Bassman’s, is that the effects of rocky financial markets haven’t been nearly enough to impact the real economy.
These arguments are broadly in-line with the camp of strategists, economists, and Fed watchers who think that though recent volatility in the market has been attributed to things like “China” (whether that means the economy, the stock market, or the yuan), and “global growth,” uncertainty from the Fed is really at the heart of this volatility.
And this means that the Fed can settle markets and in fact work to ensure financial stability by acting, rather than waiting for markets to give them something like an “all clear.”
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