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Don’t Fight the Fed

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 30th, 2009 12:37 PM |

“Cover all your Treasury shorts!!”

I will never forget that mandate put forth by Tom Kirch, then head of Fixed Income at First Boston, as the stock market was crashing in October 1987. As a young trader, moments like that are not soon forgotten. Why? Mr. Kirch through dint of experience knew that you “don’t fight the Fed.”

With the crash of the stock market, the Fed cut interest rates and flooded the system with liquidity. In the process, the U.S. Treasury market had a massive rally. Kirch knew what was going to happen and saved the firm millions in the process. You can rest assured I immediately broke out some ‘Buy’ tickets and covered my Treasury shorts in a heartbeat.

“Don’t fight the Fed” is a tried and true rule of trading on Wall Street. While the bond market can often get overbought or oversold in the midst of a Fed easing or tightening scenario, ultimately if the Fed wants to move rates in one direction or another, it will make it happen.

Fast forward to the Brave New World of the Uncle Sam Economy 2009. How are market participants supposed to view the Fed currently? Dare I say, as challenging as it may be for market participants, myself included, “don’t fight the Fed” is still very much applicable. How so?
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