fed Markets

Trump To Powell On Negative Rates: Don’t Look A ‘GIFT’ Horse In The Mouth!

"Big numbers!"

At a time when Fed officials are struggling mightily to beat back the barbarian STIR traders at the gates, Donald Trump is openly calling for negative rates – again.

“As long as other countries are receiving the benefits of Negative Rates, the USA should also accept the ‘GIFT'”, the president said Tuesday.

He then shouted “Big numbers!” into the digital void. It wasn’t immediately clear what he meant.

You might be inclined to say this is nothing new, and you’d be right, but you should note that Trump is effectively encouraging the market to keep a foot on the Fed’s throat when it comes to pushing the envelope on a cut into negative territory.

Simply put: That’s a very “uncool” thing for the president to do.

Futures started pricing in NIRP in the US last week, much to the chagrin of Fed officials, who are now at pains to talk the market down without coming across as hawkish during a modern day depression.

Read more: Market Prices In Negative Rates For US. Media, Blogs, Finance Twitter Lose Collective Mind

Every Fed speaker the market has heard from this week has attempted to downplay the idea of pushing rates negative, but the problem is always the same. Any effort to reclaim some shred of independence from a market that’s angling to enslave policy, risks precipitating a hawkish outcome at a decidedly inopportune time.

That’s the trap. The market prices the Fed into a corner, forcing officials to choose between their independence and a possible tightening of financial conditions which could occur if any push back is seen as being too aggressive.

This can become self-fulfilling.


Trump figured this out long ago. Indeed, last summer he appeared to use tariff threats to encourage traders to price in rate cuts. Once those cuts were priced in, the Fed found itself in a terrible position: Either acquiesce, or risk catching the market offsides.

Now here we are again – witnessing the same dynamic. Only this time, the stakes are far, far higher. The Fed can’t go negative – not really. The plumbing of the US financial system isn’t really set up for that, and policymakers have repeatedly said it isn’t desirable.

“I would be against negative rates”, Robert Kaplan said Tuesday. “Negative rates aren’t a good solution for the US”, Jim Bullard remarked. Neel Kashkari weighed in too: “There are other tools we would go to first”.

That pushback comes on the heels of likeminded comments from Bostic and Evans on Monday, and one assumes Jerome Powell himself will say something similar in a planned address on Wednesday.

It is entirely fair to suggest that Trump’s public exhortations will serve to egg on anyone keen to push this bet. And that’s egg on Powell’s face.

Just Tuesday, for example, Bloomberg’s Edward Bolingbroke flagged “the first significant volumes” in Jun21 Eurodollar call strikes corresponding to deeply negative US short-term rates by midway through next year. About 10,000 EDM1 100.375 calls were bought at 3.5, a US-based trader said.

Jeff Gundlach grabbed headlines last week with a characteristically hyperbolic tweet calling negative rates “fatal”.

On that note, I’ll leave you with the following highly amusing response from one member of the Twitterati.


7 comments on “Trump To Powell On Negative Rates: Don’t Look A ‘GIFT’ Horse In The Mouth!

  1. Peter says:

    Trump has been so hypocritical on this it makes me sick. During Obama’s presidency, Trump argued about Yellen doing “political things” and low interest rates from the Fed creating “a false stock market”, “big, fat, ugly bubble” etc. -> Completely accurate, but now that he is in charge, all that goes out the window. Sickening.

  2. joesailboat says:

    A gift horse is usually on it’s last legs…….. Does POTUS mean “Beggars can’t be choosers”…. The President thinks the situation is worse than we know!!!!!

  3. RStantz says:

    Investors demanding NIRP may wish to look under the heading “BCWYWF”

  4. gdhalpha says:

    This must be because “the king of debt” trump thinks he can make money suckering banks into lending him even more money at negative rates (?)

    • calh0025 says:

      He could probably manage to keep his businesses afloat if he could borrow at negative interest rates. Of course if we go -1 today he’ll need -2 in 6 months… then -3 etc…

  5. Usually I ignore his idiocy but this is too much…the BK king needs to STFU

  6. Will Smith says:

    Instead of working hard to formulate/execute or tweet about a covid safety plan, Trump is spending his limited energy playing math

    And this is the POTUS, If he wins the RE-election is truly on a path of irreversible decline

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