El-Erian Warns Fed's Data Dependence Risks Global Market Havoc: 'That Is What We've Got To Keep An Eye On'

BY Benzinga | ECONOMIC | 05/06/24 05:07 AM EDT

Economist Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Advisor at Allianz, raised concerns about the Federal Reserve’s data-dependent approach following the April U.S. jobs report. He suggests it could cause further disruptions in global markets.

Red Flags? The April jobs report, released on Friday, showed a significant slowdown, particularly in construction. El-Erian, according to Bloomberg, worries this data could have far-reaching consequences for global markets.

El-Erian emphasized the risks associated with the Fed’s data-driven policy, especially in light of the weak jobs report. He argued that the Fed’s reliance on backward-looking data like payrolls could lead to delayed reactions.

"This volatility in interest rate structure ? it is causing havoc elsewhere in the world when U.S. rates swing as much as they do on a short-term basis," said El-Erian, the president of Queens’ College, Cambridge. "This volatility, which we are continuing in rates, risks ? I'm afraid ? risks breaking something elsewhere, and that is what we've got to keep an eye on."

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Conflicting Views: While some, like BlackRock‘s Jeff Rosenberg, see the slowdown as potentially positive news for the Fed, there’s no clear consensus. Rosenberg suggests the market’s reaction reflects pre-report pessimism, not the data itself.

The bigger picture remains uncertain. Sarah Wolfe of Morgan Stanley presents a “soft landing” scenario where lower-income families are already in recession, while higher-income earners continue to prop up the economy. In contrast, Andrew Hollenhorst of Citigroup predicts a “rough landing” with four rate cuts in 2024 and rising unemployment.

El-Erian, however, is particularly concerned about wage growth, which was cooler than expected in the jobs report. 

"Remember especially at the low income side, wages are key to consumption and key to economic growth," he said, as per the report. "Wage income is absolutely critical to the well being of this economy."

Fed Policy Under Scrutiny: The Fed recently announced a slowdown in its quantitative tightening program after a period of steady interest rates. This aims to control inflation but could also lead to higher borrowing costs.

Despite inflation concerns, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has downplayed the possibility of a rate hike. However, El-Erian’s comments highlight the potential risks of the Fed’s data-dependent approach, suggesting a period of economic uncertainty lies ahead.

Read Next: The Vanishing American Dream? Inflation Hits Even Six-Figure Earners And Threatens Middle-Class Stability: ‘They Don’t Feel Like They Can Relax…’

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