The BofA Merrill Lynch rates and FX strategy team has just published the results of its October fund-manager survey, which contains an interesting observation: Investors still view the December FOMC meeting as the most likely timeframe in which the Federal Reserve will begin scaling back its quantitative easing program.
30-seven per cent of the 80 global fixed income managers surveyed by BAML between Oct. 4 and Oct. 9 said they expect the Fed to begin tapering in December, while 31% think January is more likely, and 25% think the FOMC will delay until March.
This is in spite of the ongoing government shutdown and the attendant blackout of economic data reports compiled and released by government agencies, which members of the FOMC have cited in recent weeks as a barrier to discerning whether the economy is yet able to handle a reduction in monetary stimulus.
Many Wall Street economists — including those at BAML — have written off the possibility of tapering until 2014, given the adverse effects the government shutdown is thought to have on the economy.
Last week, BAML economist Ethan Harris downgraded the bank’s official forecasts for U.S. GDP growth in Q3 and Q4, citing decreased government spending and attendant “significant spillovers into the private sector” resulting from the shutdown.
“While a December taper is still possible, more likely the Fed will wait until January to start tapering and we see virtually no chance of tapering at their October 29-30 meeting,” said Harris.
The BAML survey also asked fund managers what they thought was the most crowded trade. Long U.S. equities was the winner. Short Treasuries was not far behind.