Fuss Sees Rates on Hold for a Year as Fisher Urges Increase

Dan Fuss says geopolitical risks will keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates too soon, countering calls from Fed Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher for an increase as early as this year.

Fuss, whose Boston-based Loomis Sayles Bond Fund outperformed 98 percent of its competitors during the past five years, said the central bank will probably hold off for at least another 12 months. “There’s reason to worry geopolitically,” Fuss said yesterday on Bloomberg Radio’s “The Hays Advantage” with Kathleen Hays in New York. “I think our central bank takes that into account.”

Fisher said in a speech this month the Fed should raise borrowing costs “early next year, or potentially sooner depending on the pace of economic improvement.” He reiterated the remarks in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal this week.

The disparity highlights the debate over whether the world’s biggest economy has recovered enough from the global financial crisis six years ago to withstand higher borrowing costs. The Fed is scaling back the bond-buying program it has used to drive growth, and it will reduce its monthly purchases to $25 billion from $35 billion after a two-day meeting starting today, based on a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

Record Balance

The purchases increased the central bank’s balance sheet to a record $4.41 trillion.

The Federal Open Market Committee has kept its target for overnight bank lending in a range of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008, responding to the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

Traders see about a 63 percent chance the central bank will raise the target for its benchmark to at least 0.5 percent by July, based on futures contracts.

Policy risks being “too loose, too long,” Fisher, who votes on monetary policy this year, wrote in the Wall Street Journal. Employment is improving and inflation is accelerating, he said.

“The FOMC should consider tapering the reinvestment of maturing securities and begin incrementally shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet,” Fisher wrote. “Early next year, or potentially sooner depending on the pace of economic improvement, the FOMC may well begin to raise interest rates in gradual increments.”

Treasuries have benefited this year as unrest in Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq drove demand for the safest securities. The Bloomberg U.S. Treasury Bond Index has advanced 3.5 percent in 2014 through yesterday, recouping a loss from 2013.

“The world is a far less peaceful place in some areas,” Fuss said. “And it’s far riskier than it used to be. Do we want to take the base rate of interest higher in the biggest reserve currency?”

The U.S. dollar comprised 60.9 percent of official foreign exchange reserves that have been allocated to specific currencies as of the end of March, according to the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

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