Economy & Markets

Most economists expect the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee to raise interest rates at this week’s Fed meeting

By James Langton |

The outlook for the U.S. economy has shifted a bit among securities industry economists, according to the U.S. Securities and Financial Markets Association's (SIFMA) mid-year economic advisory roundtable.

The roundtable forecasts 2.1% growth in 2017 and 2.3% in 2018. The outlook for 2017 is slightly weaker than prior predictions, but 2018's forecast is a bit stronger.

"The economy remains poised to expand at an above trend rate because past headwinds in the form of a stronger dollar, excessive inventories and plunging energy investment have effectively abated if not reversed," says Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, in a statement. "The post-election improvement in business and consumer confidence will also help boost aggregate demand. In turn this should keep downward pressure on the unemployment rate and the Fed on a gradual tightening path."

All but one economist expects the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to raise interest rates at the June 13-14 Fed meeting.  The roundtable is also nearly unanimous in expecting two rate hikes in 2017, including the forecast hike for June.

For 2018, half of respondents are expecting three rate hikes, nearly a third expect two rate hikes, about a fifth see four rate hikes, and the rest are only anticipating one increase.

SIFMA reports that economists consider labour market conditions to be the most important factor in the FOMC's decision to raise rates, followed by inflation, or inflationary expectations.

In terms of fiscal policy, 31.3% said tax policy changes have the greatest chance of being enacted in 2017, followed by changes to trade policies, immigration and healthcare policy. Only one economist sees infrastructure policy as likely to change this year.

"Tax policy and infrastructure were expected by most to have a positive impact on economic growth, if enacted, while the impact of a policy change to immigration and to [healthcare] was seen as more negative," SIFMA notes.