Jim Cramer predicts the Federal Reserve will soon cut its key Fed funds rate -- just not at next week's policy meeting. Instead, Cramer told members of his Action Alerts PLUS club for investors that the central bank will probably trim rates when its policy committee meets on July 30-31. And he says last week's poor May U.S. non-farm payrolls report shows that President Donald Trump's criticism of the Fed for the central bank's December 2018 rate hike is spot on.
"The president was and is right," Cramer said during an exclusive video-conference call with AAP members. "Given the slowdown in the economy and the weak inflation numbers -- including [Wednesday's] soft consumer price index -- that last rate hike was totally and unequivocally unnecessary, although I would be more diplomatic than the president would ever be."
The U.S. Labor Department reported Wednesday that U.S. "core" inflation (which excludes volatile food and energy prices) rose a modest 2% in May, down from a recent peak of 2.4% last July. Meanwhile, Labor reported last Friday that U.S. employers created just 75,000 non-farm jobs in May -- less than half of what economists had expected.
Cramer said the weak stats will give Fed Chairman Jay Powell and the rest of the central bank's monetary-policy committee the cover to cut rates in July without looking like they're caving into pressure from Trump, which would be unprecedented for the central bank. "A weaker employment number right now is OK because that gives Jay Powell an opportunity to declare victory and say that because there is no inflation to speak of, he can cut rates," Cramer said. "I figure he waits until July to do so."
Cramer said that with the Fed funds rate currently set in a 2.25%-2.5% range, the Fed has more room to maneuver than it would if rates were still at the 0%, 1% or 1.5% of years gone by.
"There's ample room to cut, even as you hear from some sticklers that rates should be much higher. [They're] wrong," the expert said.
Still, Cramer is fine with the Fed waiting until July to cut rates. "I am in no hurry to get [a rate cut]," he said. "Things are, right now, just fine knowing that [a rate cut] could be out there. The anticipation of it is sometimes better than the actuality."
The stockpicker added that even if the central bank doesn't cut rates any time soon, "the market will be appeased anyway, because it means the economy is stronger than we thought and earnings will hold up. We would just have to buy different stocks."
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