It's Powell's White House to disappoint

The Fed's about to frustrate both Biden and Trump before November

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Welcome to the final day of April.

Stocks climbed Monday, but the three major indexes remain on pace for their worst month of the year.

The Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting kicks off today, and markets are betting it will culminate tomorrow with no change to interest rates.

Given the recent slate of hotter-than-expected economic data, that seems like the right move.

But that doesn’t mean it’ll appease political candidates on either side of the aisle.

Powell’s only option is to irk the president(s)

Jerome Powell holds the second-most scrutinized job in America.

And he’s about to aggravate whoever claims the top seat in the White House.

To no surprise, presidential front-runners Joe Biden and Donald Trump don’t want to lead an economy that features the highest borrowing costs in two decades.

Separate reports from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times said as much:

  • Trump allies are planning proposals to blunt the Fed’s independence (WSJ)

  • Democrats are urging Biden to pressure the Fed to cut rates (NYT)

Trump, for his part, has never been shy criticizing Powell for keeping interest rates elevated.

Biden meanwhile has only said he expects the Fed to lower rates in 2024, but he’s stopped short of pressuring Powell outright.

It wouldn’t surprise me if both candidates began ratcheting up their opinions on the matter as the election draws near.

The chances of that making a difference, though, seem slim.

Over the last few days, every economist I’ve spoke to has told me they don’t expect Powell to lower interest rates on Wednesday.

Recent data tell much of the story:

Higher-for-longer policy certainly is not coming to an end this week, and there’s a solid chance it lingers past the presidential election.

The case for rate cuts is simply too weak, Trump and Biden’s wishes be damned.

“The statement language is likely to be altered in a hawkish direction, reflecting economic developments in recent weeks, particularly the strong inflation readings for March,” Macquarie strategist David Doyle said.

Sixty thousand media headlines suggest the same.

According to Bloomberg’s Fed sentiment index, which analyzed several months worth of news coverage, Powell is set to pull back on his optimism for rate cuts, and lean in the opposite direction.

During his press conference, I expect at least one reporter to ask Powell whether politics are at play.

Powell will surely stick to his book about the central bank being a non-political entity because, well, what else can he do?

His political superiors might want him to act as if the opposite were true, but the economic numbers are just too hot.

Powell’s hands are tied.

Recall that in December had expected as many as seven rate cuts in 2024.

They now are pricing in one, with wiggle room for zero.

*At a glance:

*Data as of 10:30 p.m. ET


  • Look for first-quarter earnings today from Amazon, Eli Lilly, Super Micro Computer, and Advanced Micro Devices. Then, key jobs numbers are due Wednesday and Friday.

  • Oil prices dipped overnight. Markets are reacting to a potential truce in Gaza, with ceasefire talks reported between Israel and Hamas.(Reuters)

  • Tesla stock soared Monday. Elon Musk’s trip to China was not wasted. The EV company gained ground on using self-driving technology in the world’s second-largest economy. (Yahoo Finance)


  • The Biden Administration faces lawsuits over regulatory overreach (CNBC)

  • Domino’s stock soared on upbeat earnings (WSJ)

  • What Wall Street expects from Amazon’s first-quarter earnings (Business Insider)

  • NBC preps $2.5 billion-a-year bid to takeover NBA rights from TNT (WSJ)

Last thing:

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