Jun 4, 2019

Fed gives first sign it may cut interest rates

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard issued the opening salvo in the Fed's capitulation to the market on Monday, saying an interest rate cut "may be warranted soon."

What he said: Bullard, a voter this year on the Fed's rate-setting committee, cited the rising risk of global trade tensions and weaker-than-expected inflation as reasons he could favor cutting U.S. overnight interest rates.

  • Lowering rates soon could "help recenter inflation and inflation expectations," he said. It could also "provide some insurance in case of a sharper-than-expected slowdown."
  • The Fed "faces an economy that is expected to grow more slowly going forward, with some risk that the slowdown could be sharper than expected due to ongoing global trade regime uncertainty," Bullard said, according to a transcript of his speech in Chicago.

What he didn't say: Ignoring commentary from Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other FOMC policymakers so far this year who insist the Fed plans to hold rates steady, the bond market and Fed fund futures have been pricing in multiple rate cuts by year-end.

Between the lines: If the Fed does cut rates this year — some analysts predict it will be as early as September — it would add further fuel to the fire of Fed critics who say the stock market is dictating U.S. monetary policy.

Flashback: The Fed had signaled it planned to raise U.S. interest rates 3 times this year as recently as November.

Go deeper: Fed leaves rates on hold as political pressure ramps up

Go deeper

SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.

Trump indulges Wall Street with Milken pardon

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump loves Wall Street shenanigans. Companies owned by him have declared bankruptcy six different times, and he was once sued alongside Mike Milken for participating in a scheme to artificially inflate junk-bond prices.

Driving the news: Trump pardoned Milken this week, with an official statement positively gushing over Milken's role in developing the wilder side of fixed-income capital markets.