Morgan Stanley interest rate strategist Matthew Hornbach is tired of the incessant chattering about "the taper" (the moment when the Fed starts to reduce the pace of monthly asset purchases).
Whether it happens in December, January, or March is not that big of a deal anymore. Everyone knows it's coming and the ultimate impact of the timing at this point isn't a big deal.
So what should you be talking about: Everything else the Fed does while it tapers. What other language tools will it use in conjunction with a slowing rate of asset purchases?
His note is several pages long, but here's the key conclusion (which we explain in more detail below):
Investors should stop talking about tapering and start talking about potential changes to the rate guidance framework. In our view, the exact timing of tapering should be a secondary concern. What matters is whether the Fed combines tapering with a reduction in the Unemployment Rate Threshold or an introduction in a new inflation floor. The thresholds are all about credibility, so the Fed must understand how each option will impact the market's perception of its commitments to remain on hold. Our economist's base case is that the Fed pairs a modest tapering with a 50bp cut in the URT. In our view, the risk to that base case is a more aggressive 100bp cut paired with a larger taper.
Remember, right now the Fed says it won't consider a rate hike until unemployment falls to 6.5 percent. The hot new idea, which has been propagated by Goldman and others, is that the Fed will reduce this level to 6 percent at the same time it introduces the taper, so that it can provide some verbal easing even as the pace of asset purchases slows down.
And then there's this idea of an inflation floor, which Matthew Boesler wrote about last week. The idea is that the Fed could give more oomph to forward guidance by promising no rate hike as long as inflation was below a certain level. So this is what you should be talking about, not the Dectaper, Jantaper, Marchtaper parlor game.
The Monster in the Closet: Economic Horrors and Scary Movies
Taper Tantrum? Fed's Stimulus Rollback Just Not a Big Deal Anymore
If you thought this classic horror movie was about a haunted house, see if this scenario sounds familiar: An idealistic young couple buys a home that sounds too good to be true. Once they're mortgaged to the hilt, problems start to crop up. They can't leave, they can't stay, and an unseen evil force starts to tear their family apart.
Filmmakers have used zombies to symbolize everything from faceless corporations to the inhumanity of the military industrial complex. In this early offering (and, to a lesser extent, in its remake), it isn't particularly hard to figure out the greater symbolism of a bunch of mindless, shambling zombies swarming into a shopping mall.
Speaking of mindless shambling, "Shaun of the Dead" used the same conceit to symbolize office work.
Everybody remembers Janet Leigh's death scene in the classic slasher flick. What they forget, though, is why she ended up in the Bates Motel in the first place: She was on the run after stealing a small fortune from her employer. As for the motel itself, it was facing hard times because the recently-unveiled highway drove away business.
For a funnier take on a similar story, you might try taking a peek at "Auntie Lee's Meat Pies", which manages to brilliantly combine cannibalism, serial murder and Pat Morita.
Forget ghosts and ghouls: Few things are scarier than asking the bank for a loan. But in this Sam Raimi-directed flick, the tables are turned as a young loan officer turns a deaf ear to a seemingly feeble gypsy woman trying to borrow some money. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose.
On the surface, this 1981 classic is the tale of super-evolved wolves preying on New Yorkers. Scratch a little deeper, though, and another story emerges: The tale of wealthy Manhattanites preying on poor people in the Bronx, then being themselves preyed upon by wolves. In other words, NYC in the 1970s was truly a dog-eat-dog world.
If you want another fix or two of class-based horror, check out "CHUD" and "Street Trash," both of explore the plight of New York's invisible homeless.
Sure, Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film is all about telepathic kids and haunted houses and elevators full of blood. But one of the first bits of fear and tension occurs in the hotel manager's office, where Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who can't seem to hold onto a job, finds himself forced to beg for a gig as the winter caretaker of a resort hotel. Anybody who remembers the travails of searching for a job will recognize this truth: The nightmare isn't being trapped a haunted house -- it's having to grovel to get a job in a haunted house.
Angus Scrimm's Tall Man character is one of the more unnerving monsters in filmland: Not only does he steal the bodies of the dead, but he also steals the souls of towns. As Reggie and Mike travel cross country, it isn't hard to pick up his trail -- they just have to look for boarded-up stores, deserted streets and abandoned homes. Of course, for 1988 audiences facing the effects of outsourcing, the monster emptying out their towns was a little harder to explain.
For another take on the "monsters-as-suburban-economics" metaphor, take a peek at "Poltergeist." Between the unethical developer who didn't bother to relcoate a graveyard and the mindless TV that saps your soul, the Tobe Hooper classic manages to hit a host of cultural touchstones!
A whole subset of horror films is dedicated to rural families living off the land ... and the miserable travelers who happen across their path. It isn't hard to see why it might be an attractive premise: After all, there's no lack of people clinging to the bottom rung of the economic ladder, and it isn't hard to imagine that they may be one paycheck away from having to make their own clothes and hunt their own meat. What happens afterward ... well, that's where it gets really ugly.
If you want even more tips on living off the land (and curious teenagers), you might check out "The Hills Have Eyes," "Wolf Creek" and "Mother's Day." For a funny take on the same premise, try "Tucker and Dale Versus Evil."