19-May (Bloomberg) — As soon as the Federal Reserve released meeting minutes describing a weaker dollar, the currency surged to a seven-week high.
That’s the dilemma facing U.S. central bankers, who are weighing economic data to determine when next to raise interest rates. The Fed’s signals of a potential June move may backfire if the resurgent greenback undermines growth and weighs on stocks and oil prices, ultimately eroding the case to boost borrowing costs.
The dollar’s surge since mid-2014 hurt the outlook for growth and inflation, and contributed to the Fed delaying to December its liftoff from near zero, according to strategists. Officials from Janet Yellen to Stanley Fischer have warned that the dollar’s appreciation will limit the pace of tightening.
“The Fed’s in a bind,” said Douglas Borthwick, the New York-based head of currencies at Chapdelaine & Co., a unit of the British interdealer brokerage Tullet Prebon Plc. “The Fed can’t raise rates because it means a stronger dollar, and it means deflationary pressure in the world. The Fed’s under pressure to talk a mighty game, but it can’t actually do a lot.”
…“The Fed’s very thought of a June increase — much less the signals it may have been trying to convey to decrease the risk of complacency — could reverse some of the very trends they liked so much,” said Jim Vogel, head of interest-rate strategy at FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee.