Back to School

The thirteen-hour drive back from our North Carolina beach retreat afforded plenty of time to conjure up snappy post-Dodd Frank tourism slogans (“Welcome to the Outer Non-Banks!”) and spot amusing bumper stickers (“My Other Car is Driverless”).

In general, though, our thoughts last week kept drifting back to the state of the capital markets as participants prepared to return from the Labor Day break.

One recurring theme in the financial news that did manage to penetrate our vacation brain was the Fed’s effort to convince investors of its genuine desire to raise rates. Communiques from the Board’s mid-month conference in Jackson Hole, as well as supporting interviews with the usual governors, reiterated that “the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened.” This time we’re serious!

The problem, of course, is that we’ve heard this all before. No sooner were the rounds of Fed jawboning over, when August’s labor report came out. It showed just over 150,000 jobs added – below economists’ expectations and well below the 255,000 recorded for July. That sent rate hike prognosticators scurrying back to their holes once again. According to the CME Group, there is only an 18% likelihood of a rate increase at the next FOMC meeting in September.