Federal Reserve Raises Fed Funds Rate Over 5% for First Time Since 2007

eToro’s Callie Cox noted that bitcoin has led the stock market “in seven of the last 10 Fed days”

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Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell | Source: JAndrea Hanks "Jerome Powell" (CC license)

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The Federal Reserve announced a 25 basis point hike on Wednesday, raising the federal funds rate between 5% and 5.25% for the first time since 2007. 

The 25 bps hike was largely expected, though the hike comes after a slew of bank collapses. In the past couple of months, JPMorgan had to step in to buy First Republic after it was seized by regulators, Silicon Valley Bank was abruptly seized by regulators after comments from the CEO caused a bank run, Signature followed SVB’s suit a few days later and Silvergate — which had a lot of crypto exposure — voluntarily liquidated back in March.

The Fed omitted language that signaled further rate hikes, pointing to a potential pause. 

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed will be “prepared to do more” if economic activity calls for it. 

“We’ll be driven by incoming data, meeting by meeting,” Powell said when asked whether or not the Fed would pause rate hikes in future meetings. “Our future policy actions will depend on how events unfold.”

“The committee will closely monitor incoming information and assess the implications for monetary policy. In determining the extent to which additional policy may be appropriate,” the Fed said in its May release.

In March, Powell said that it was “too early” to fully understand the effect of the banking crisis, and in the May decision, the Fed reiterated that the “banking system is sound and resilient.” 

Powell addressed the banking sector, saying that the Fed will be closely monitoring the banks.

If the Fed starts to cut rates by the end of 2023, then the market “has already priced it, and it is very likely the Fed will manage a soft landing, and financial markets will continue to grow. In case of some deviation in the plan, the risk of a recession or a longer period of high inflation will be increased, which can lead to the market drop,” Ruslan Lienkha, chief of markets at YouHodler, said in an email to Blockworks. 

In March, Powell also reiterated that he believed that there was a possibility for a soft landing — a term he’s been using since the Fed started on its rate hiking cycle to indicate the possibility of lowering inflation without an economic crisis or recession.

While inflation has shown signs of slowing, it’s still persistently high. The consumer price index’s annual inflation found that prices rose 5% for the 12 months ended in March, which is a slight downtick from the 6% reported in February.

However, the Federal Reserve’s goal is to bring inflation back to a 2% target rate, which is also the fed funds’ target rate. 

“We’re highly attentive to the risks that high inflation poses,” Powell said.

Bitcoin “is driven by macro events this year, with a +25bps hike priced in, there should be little reaction there,” said Greg Magadini, director of derivatives at Amberdata, a crypto analytics firm. “Guidance around a pause going forward should be bullish for BTC and could send BTC slightly higher (around 29k-30k) but without a surprise, I don’t expect $30k to be meaningfully surpassed.”

Callie Cox, US investment analyst at eToro, noted that bitcoin (BTC) has outperformed the stock market “in seven of the last 10 Fed days.”

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Updated May 3, 2023 at 3:01 pm ET: Added additional context throughout.


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