It concerns the rise in long-bond rates, and what it shows is that nobody really knows much of anything. It sounds like your typical CNBC octobox. It’s the deficit! It’s growth! It’s portfolio re-allocation!
Interest rates at intermediate and longer maturities rose substantially over the intermeeting period, while credit spreads were roughly unchanged and equity prices rose moderately. Participants pointed to a number of factors that appeared to have contributed to the significant backup in yields, including an apparent downward reassessment by investors of the likely ultimate size of the Federal Reserve’s asset-purchase program, economic data that were seen as suggesting an improved economic outlook, and the announcement of a package of fiscal measures that was expected to bolster economic growth and increase the deficit over coming quarters. It was noted that the backup in rates may have been amplified by year-end positioning, as well as by some reported mortgage-related hedging flows. A number of participants indicated that, because the backup in rates appeared to importantly reflect changes in investors’ expectations about the size of Federal Reserve asset purchases, the backup was consistent with purchases helping to keep longer-term yields lower than would otherwise be the case. Several meeting participants mentioned the communications challenges faced in conducting effective policy, including the need to clearly convey the Committee’s views while appropriately airing individual perspectives.