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    美聯儲降息史

    Ben Carlson 2019年07月19日

    歷史上下調利率并不新鮮,但美聯儲上次降息已經是很久以前的事了。

    上周在眾議院金融服務委員會作證時,美聯儲主席杰羅姆·鮑威爾暗示該機構可能在本月底再次開會時決定下調短期利率。

    歷史上下調利率并不新鮮,但美聯儲上次降息已經是很久以前的事了。1960年以來,美聯儲將聯邦基金利率下調了近140次,每10年大概降息 23次。但2011年至今該機構還沒有降低過利率。

    Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell hinted that the Federal Reserve may cut short-term interest rates when they meet again later this month.

    A rate cut wouldn’t be anything new in terms of history but it has been a long time since the Fed last lowered their short-term interest rate. Since 1960, the Federal Reserve has cut the Fed Funds Rate nearly 140 times. That’s good enough for roughly 23 times per decade. But there hasn’t been a single rate cut this decade:

    顯然,這段時間一直沒有降息的最主要原因是全球金融危機過后美國利率一直處于非常低的水平。2008年12月實際利率降至零,直到2015年12月美聯儲終于將利率上調了0.25個百分點,利率才開始回升。

    在過去近60年時間里,美國利率平均降幅為0.5個百分點,但和今天的市場或經濟狀況類似的歷史階段并不多。目前聯邦基金利率為2.5%。2007-2009年爆發金融危機前,美聯儲將利率降至3%以下的次數屈指可數。

    1960年以來的降息行動中,降息前利率高于當前利率的占92%以上,失業率高于目前水平的幾乎達到99%,還有近65%的降息出現在通脹率比當前水平高的時候。

    為應對1960年至1961年初的輕微經濟衰退,美聯儲主席威廉·麥克切斯尼·馬丁曾經10次下調利率,聯邦基金利率在差不多兩年時間里一直低于3%(在此期間美聯儲也曾經兩次加息)。但受衰退影響,當時的失業率比現在高得多,1961年一度突破7%。

    當前美國失業率僅為3.7%,是1969年以來的最低點。實際上,上次美聯儲在失業率如此之低時下調利率就是在1969年7月,當時的降息幅度為0.25個百分點。但在即將進入70年代時,通脹剛剛開始上行,所以當時的利率遠高于目前水平。1969年降息前,聯邦基金利率接近9%,而且為了抑制通脹,美聯儲沒過幾個月就出現大轉折,再次提高了利率。

    1960年以來美聯儲在失業率和聯邦基金利率都低于4%時降息的情況只出現過一次,那是在1967年夏天,具體而言是當年7月。但那次降息并未持續很長時間,當年年底前美聯儲就加息兩次。

    進入70年代之際,美國通脹率迅速逼近6%,而且有可能在這個10年結束時達到兩位數。現在美國通脹率則只有1.6%。通脹率低于2%時美聯儲降息的情況只在60年代初出現過一次,但如上文所述,當時美國正處于衰退之中。

    所以說,當前的局勢很特殊。利率、失業率和通脹率都處于歷史上很低的水平。這可能是10多年來美聯儲首次降息。此外,美國股市近幾周又一次創下歷史新高。

    2015年底美聯儲進入加息周期的唯一原因很可能是讓自己隨后可以下調利率,目前該機構的策略看來就是這樣。短期內,美聯儲的任何行動都更有可能給市場帶來心理上的影響,而不會長久地改變基本面。

    市場受到的短期影響一直取決于投資者決定選擇怎樣的邏輯。有些人會認為降息表明經濟滑坡。另一些人則相信美聯儲降息是為了維持當前的良好形勢。

    但最終,這些短期解讀都必須得到長期基本面的支持,否則就可能被視為欺騙。盡管1960年以來降息近140次,但在這期間美國股市出現了30次兩位數回調,美國經濟也經歷了8次衰退。無論采取怎樣的措施,美聯儲都無法永遠杜絕衰退或熊市。(財富中文網)

    譯者:Charlie

    審校:夏林

    Obviously, the biggest reason there hasn’t been a rate cut this decade is that rates were on the floor for so long following the Great Financial Crisis. Rates were effectively lowered to zero in December 2008 and didn’t rise from the dead until December 2015, when the Fed finally raised rates a quarter of a percent.

    The average rate cut over the past 60 years or so is 50 basis points but there aren’t many historical scenarios that compare with the current market or economic situation. The Fed Funds rate currently stands at 2.5%. Before the financial crisis of 2007-2009, there have only been a handful of times where the Fed cut rates with yields below 3%.

    More than 92% of all rate cuts since 1960 have come from higher levels of the Fed Funds Rate. Almost 99% have come when the unemployment rate was higher than the latest reading. And nearly 65% have come when the inflation rate is higher than it currently stands.

    In response to a minor recession in 1960 which bled into early-1961, Fed Chair William McChesney Martin cut rates ten times while the Fed Funds Rate was below 3% over the course of two years or so (rates were also raised twice during this time). But the unemployment rate was much higher in those days because of the recession, topping out at more than 7% in 1961.

    The current unemployment rate stands at just 3.7%, the lowest it’s been since 1969. In fact, the last time the Fed cut interest rates with the unemployment rate so low was in July of 1969, when they cut a quarter of a percent. But yields were much higher at that time as inflation was just beginning to take off heading into the 1970s. The Federal Funds Rate was nearly 9% during that rate cut in 1969 and the Fed would actually reverse course and raise rates the very next month in an effort to stave off inflation.

    There was only one instance since 1960 where both the unemployment rate and the Fed Funds Rate were sub-4% when the Fed cut rates, which occurred in the summer of July 1967. That cut didn't last for long as the Fed raised rates twice before the end of that year.

    Inflation was fast approaching 6% heading into the 1970s and would reach double-digits by the end of that decade. The latest reading stood at just 1.6%. The only other time we’ve seen the Fed cut rates with inflation below 2% was during the early-1960s, but again that was in the midst of a recession.

    So the current period is unique. Interest rates, unemployment, and inflation are all low by historical standards. And this would be the first rate cut in over a decade. Plus there’s the fact that stocks have once again been hitting all-time highs in recent weeks.

    It’s quite possible the only reason the Fed began its hiking cycle in late-2015 is to give themselves the option to then cut rates yet again, which appears to be the current strategy. In the short-term, any Fed actions likely provide more of a psychological impact on the markets than a lasting change in fundamentals.

    The short-term impact on the markets will always be driven by whichever story investors decide to latch onto. Some will assume a rate cut will signal a weakening economy. Others will assume the Fed will ease in time to keep the party going.

    Eventually, those short-term narratives have to be backed up by long-term fundamentals or they run the risk of being outed as frauds. Even with nearly 140 rate cuts since 1960, there have been 30 double-digit stock market corrections and 8 recessions in the U.S. over that time. Regardless of what they do, the Fed can't fight off recessions or bear markets forever.

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