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Fed interest rates forecast: March 2024

Are interest rates going up or down? Stay on top of the Fed's interest rate decisions with predictions and insights from experts.

The Federal Reserve is due to have its second Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of 2024 on March 19-20, and after a bumpy couple of years, the majority of Finder’s panel says the Fed will hold rates at their current level (5.33%).

There has been a lot of speculation that the Fed will cut rates up to six times in 2024, but none of our panel members sees that first cut coming in March.

What will the Fed do with interest rates at its next meeting?

The panel members unanimously expect the Fed will hold rates at its next meeting, with all saying rates will hold.

Cynthia Wylie, partner and cofounder of the Project Consultant, says that while she doesn’t expect cuts to come in March 2024, they are imminent.

The FED has stated that they expect to cut rates by 75 basis points in 2024. However, due to the robust job growth in February over expectations, I think they will hold for March.

Faculty Member at NYU, Howard Yaruss, also expects that rates will come down as “inflation has stabilized close to the Fed’s target and I doubt the Fed will want to go into the months before the election being accused of keeping rates too high.”

Investments writer at Finder.com, Frank Corva, thinks cuts are coming but at the cost of cracks in financial systems:

“I think the Fed will hold rates until something in the banking or broader financial system breaks. Then, it will be forced to cut rates, as it will need to inject liquidity into the system so to avoid a deflationary debt spiral.”

Panel member

Prediction

Commentary


Cynthia Wylie
Partner and co-founder of The Project Consultant

Hold rates

I think they will hold for March.


Howard Yaruss
Faculty Member at NYU

Hold rates

The longer the Fed keeps rates high, the more it risks unnecessarily slowing the economy.


Frank Corva
Senior analyst for digital assets and Finder.com

Hold rates

Holding rates high while the US debt-to-GDP ration is 130% has proven to be a dangerous endeavor.


Matt Colyar
Economist at Moody’s Analytics

Hold rates

March is too early.


James Welsh
Portfolio MGR – Publisher at Macro Tides

Hold rates

March is too early.


Looking further ahead, most of the panel sees the Fed holding rates until either the middle or the end of 2024.

How much should the Fed increase or decrease rates?

The majority of the panel (60%) believe that the Fed decision to hold rates is the correct one. The remaining panel members (40%) say that the Fed should be cutting rates by 0.25% at the March 2024 meeting.

When will inflation return to 2%?

If you were hoping for the inflation rate (currently at 3.2%) to return to the Bank’s target range of 2% anytime soon, our panel has some bad news for you, with two in five (40%) saying that we won’t see inflation hit this mark until Q1 2025 or beyond. Around a fifth (20%) see things easing by Q2 2024, Q4 2024 or Q1 2025.

Economic indicators

From the perspective of individual Americans, our panel has a fairly pessimistic outlook for a range of economic indicators over the next six months. All of the panel sees household debt (100%), cost of living (60%), wage growth (60%) and house prices (60%) rising over the next six months, as employment (60%) go in the other direction.

Will the US enter a recession in 2024?

As to whether the US will experience a recession in 2024, the majority (60%) say it won’t happen.

Jim Welsh, Portfolio MGR and Publisher at Macro Tides, said the US will very likely enter a recession in Q1 2025.

“Higher real rates, tighter lending standards, job growth slowing, commercial real estate loan losses leading bank closures.”

Similarly, Finder’s Investments writer Frank COrva says a recession is somewhat likely by Q4 2024:

With the Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) having ended on March 11, 2024, I expect a banking crisis to ensue somewhere within the next two quarters. Most regional banks are overexposed to both commercial real estate, a market that’s been in decline since COVID, and long-term US treasuries, which continue to trade at a discount. Holding both of these types of assets will eventually catch up with the banks, which will become insolvent if they aren’t bailed out.

Soft economic indicators

The panel is trending fairly neutral to negative on how they feel about the future of various soft economic indicators.

Upcoming FOMC 2024 meetings

The January 30-31, 2024 FOMC meeting is the first of eight FOMC meetings in 2024.

Photo by Alex Bierwagen on Unsplash

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