Big money to the Fed: You're going nowhere next year.
That is the consensus view emerging from top money managers appearing at this week's Reuters Investment Outlook Summit, most of whom doubt the Federal Reserve will be able to start lifting interest rates from near-zero in mid-2015 or even by year end.
To do that, the Fed needs solid U.S. economic growth, an acceleration in inflation and better job market dynamics including higher wages and those are simply unlikely to materialize in 2015, these asset managers say.
Add in the risk of a recession in Europe, renewed recession in Japan and disappointing growth in China, and it all adds up to "later, lower, longer," says Prudential Investment's Greg Peters, effectively summing up the Fed outlook from the buy side.
That is where fund managers are at odds both with the Fed's own forecasts and their sell-side banking colleagues, who are more aligned with the Fed's view.
Twenty-four of 43 bank economists polled by Reuters this month believe the Fed will start raising rates in June and only about a quarter of them expect the Fed to wait until September or later.
That is in tune with the latest Fed forecasts where 11 out of 17 its top officials saw the Federal funds target rate rising above 1 percent by the end of 2015 from 0.1 percent now.
Compared with economists and Fed officials, fund managers are considerably less optimistic about next year's growth. Many expect expansion of just over 2 percent, below the Fed's 2.6 to 3 percent range and economists' 3 percent consensus forecast.
Peters, who oversees more than $534 billion of fixed income assets, said the earliest the Fed could raise rates for the first time since 2006 was the third quarter, and it could easily slide into 2016.
"We are in this slow-growth world," Peters said. "The U.S. looks solid relative to everyone else, but the global construct is slowing. That serves as a cap for growth here."