A quick look at all the rate-hike buzz going on at the hedge fund conference of the year

Janet yellen
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen arrives for a luncheon at the Federal Reserve in San Francisco, California March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

One thing everyone at the SALT Conference in Las Vegas is taking about isthe prospect of increased rates from the Federal Reserve and chair Janet Yellen.

Will she raise them?


When these questions are finally answered, it will have huge ramifications for hedge funds, investment banks and private equity firms not just in the US, but around the world.

Business Insider spoke with sources at the conference, and listened in on all of the on-record panels, and this is what we heard.

  • “We’re not going to get a rate hike in June and we’re not going to get a rate hike in September,” Peter Schiff, CEO and chief global strategist at Euro Pacific Capital, said during a spirited speech.
  • Bruce Richards, CEO of Marathon Asset Management, was all the way at the other end of the scale: he says it’s likely that the Federal Reserve could raise rates in June, but he’s not even willing to believe the central bank will abide by Wall Street’s expectations. The central bank could decide, with sufficient market data, to make a move on rates between June and September, Richards said.
  • “The fed can move any time they want to move,” Richards said, adding, that he doesn’t believe the rate hike will be as substantial as previous interest increases from the central bank. “It will be very measured when it goes up.”
  • David McCormick, president with Bridgewater Associates, the biggest hedge fund in the world, gave himself a little room. “One rate hike before the end of the year,” he said.
  • Robert Wolf, founder and CEO of 32 Advisors, felt he had the inside track: “[Economist and ex-White House cabinet member] Austan Goolsbee works with me [at 32 Advisors] he said before” the end of the year.
  • Leon Cooperman, chairman of hedge fund Omega Advisors, in a presentation on markets Thursday morning, also said he believes we’re due for second-half 2015 rate increase. But he wasn’t giving specifics.
  • And, one Federal Reserve employee who attended the event — and asked to not be named — spoke with Business Insider. He was coy on expectations, but cryptically added: “It all depends where you think we are, in the market,” when it comes to the central bank’s decision to boost rates.

So there you have it: a whole lot of predictions, and very little consensus. We’ll have more from the SALT Conference, and ‘the great rate debate,’ as the event rolls on.

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