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Fed ‘surprise’ could benefit Bermuda, HSBC analyst says

A surprise move by the US Federal Reserve to keep America's economy on life-support could signal a slower-than-expected recovery, an HSBC analyst said yesterday.

But Lawrence Dyer, the New York-based chief US interest rate analyst for the bank, said that keeping interest rates low could benefit Bermuda — which is carrying a huge debt burden.

Mr Dyer, in Bermuda for a flying visit to the local arm of the global bank, added: “The odds certainly favour lower rather than higher interest going forward, consistent with the view that the future looks more like the recent past than the early 2000s.”

Mr Dyer was speaking after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke this week said that the $85 billion a month injection into the US economy would continue.

The move surprised many analysts — especially after the Fed's policy-setting Open Markets Committee hinted at a gradual tapering off of its monthly asset purchases aimed at keeping interest rates low.

Mr Dyer said: “It's added a lot of uncertainty because the tapering was advertised by the Fed and I think investors were confused by that.

“Before the Fed can ever consider tightening, it has to finish tapering so a delay in the start of the taper could signal it will also be very slow in starting tightening which will keep rates lower for longer.”

Mr Dyer predicted that “2014 will look a lot like 2013 and 2012” and added that the Fed forecasting record was “mixed”.

He said: “It's a continued slow healing process — the good news is we are not seeing a lower low but the bad news is the recovery is going slower than we would like.”

And he added: “The Fed's behaviour is saying if the markets push long term interest rates too high, they will have to do something.”

And Mr Dyer said: “I don't know the Bermuda economy well enough to comment on the lending structures here, but the US side of it would be a lower for longer environment.”

In a statement, Open Markets committee said: “Taking into account the state of federal fiscal retrenchment, the committee sees the improvement in economic activity and labour market conditions since it began its asset purchase programme a tear ago as consistent with growing underlying strength in the broader economy.

“However, the committee decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.”

Later Mr Bernanke said that the Fed would taper at some point, possibly later in the year — in contrast to his view in June that a reduction in support would almost certainly happen later this year, with an end to Fed support for the economy by the middle of 2014.

Mr Dyer said: “Their forecasting record, I will be polite, is mixed. They first thought it was a big deal to tell us in 2011 they wouldn't tighten until 2013.

“I think they have been too optimistic in the past and I think they may be going forward.”

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Published September 20, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 20, 2013 at 10:23 am)

Fed ‘surprise’ could benefit Bermuda, HSBC analyst says

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