‘Bite of these higher rates is gaining traction almost every day,’ KBW CEO Thomas Michaud warns
A major financial services CEO warns the economy hasn’t fully absorbed higher interest rates yet.
Thomas Michaud, who runs Stifel company KBW, notes there’s a delayed reaction in the marketplace from the last hike — calling a 25 basis point move at 5% a very different situation than off a half percent.
“This is getting to be the real deal at the moment because of the level of rates,” he told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Wednesday. “The bite of these higher rates is gaining traction almost every day.”
Michaud delivered the call hours after the Federal Reserve decided to leave interest rates unchanged. It comes after ten rate hikes in a row.
The Fed signaled on Wednesday two more hikes are ahead this year. Michaud expects one to happen in July. However, he questions whether policymakers will raise rates a second time.
“Trying to deliver a new message with these dots is not what I’m willing to hang my hat on from what I see happening in the economy,” he said. “The economy is slowing. So, I think we’re near the end of this rate increase cycle.”
He lists interest rate sensitive areas of the economy already in a recession: Office space in urban areas, residential mortgage originations and investment banking revenues. He sees the problems contributing to more pain in regional banks.
“Banks were already tightening in the fourth quarter of last year. It didn’t just start in March. Loan growth had been slowing,” added Michaud. “There are elements of like the global financial crisis that are in bank stocks right now.”
According to Michaud, the regional bank rally is a short-term bounce. The SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF is up almost 18% over the past month.
“The overall industry rally for all participants probably doesn’t happen until we get some more stability in what we think the earnings are going to be,” said Michaud. “Earnings estimates haven’t settled. They haven’t stopped going down.”
He sees a shift from adjusting to the new interest rate environment to credit quality in the second half of this year.
“Before the first quarter we cut bank estimates by 11%. After the quarter, we cut them by 4%.” Michaud said. “My instincts are we are going to cut them again.”