Markets & Economy

A June Fed hike is off the table, and everyone knows it

Lou Barnes's take on this week in economy and markets

Nothing is more disturbing in markets than a freeze while a lot is going in the real world. The implication: Tension is building for a substantial move, but in the absence of movement nobody can tell which way, which drives us all nuts. The 10-year T-note has held within a short putt of 1.9 percent for a month, mortgages steady in the high threes. The dynamic tension holding the bond market in place has been the Fed in “hold-us-back” mode, meeting-to-meeting on hair-trigger to lift off from zero -- but in conflict with distinctly weak economic data. Today’s trading adds a delicate but excruciating element: Inflation may have turned upward. Consumer price index (CPI) in March rose 0.2 percent both overall and core, stripped of energy and food. The Fed has been insistent that inflation would do so, but no mainstream person in markets agreed: We had faith that falling energy prices would pull down the general price level, and even more confidence that the rocketing...