‘Arrogant’ Fed—stop swimming upstream: Mark Grant

The new year stock market turmoil, collapsing oil prices and slowdown in China’s economy are causing a global recession, market watcher Mark Grant said Friday.

“The problem is not just a single problem. The problem is a multitude of problems hitting the market all at the same time,” the managing director and chief fixed income strategist at Hilltop Securities said.

But he argued on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” the current environment is a recession, but not the type of severe “crisis of the financial system” seen in 2008 and 2009.

Dow futures were pointing to a strong triple-digit opening on Wall Street, ahead of the long Presidents Day holiday weekend. The S&P 500 on Thursday breached its lowest level in two years, before cutting those declines almost in half by the close.

Supporting stocks, U.S. oil prices surged more than 4 percent Friday morning, back above $27 per barrel. Comments by an OPEC energy minister sparked hopes of a coordinated production cut.

Crude fell nearly 4.5 percent Thursday to settle at $26.21 per barrel, tracing lows back to May 2003. Prices have fallen about 25 percent this year and around 74 percent since their most recent peak in June 2014 at over $100 per barrel.

In a second day of testimony on the economy on Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the market conditions, especially the downdraft in oil prices, caught policymakers off guard.

Yellen conceded there’s a chance of a recession in the U.S., and that negative interest rate policy was not off the table. She also hedged her bets on further interest rate hikes.

Grant said Yellen and company at the central bank should not increase rates anytime soon, after moving them higher from near zero percent for the first time in more than nine years in December.

At the time, policymakers projected four more hikes in 2016. But with the recent turbulence, traders were pricing in the chance that the Fed’s next move could be a rate cut rather than hike.

“I think the Fed has acted incorrectly, improperly by raising rates when every other major central bank … is continuing to lower rates,” Grant said, referring to central banks in China, Japan and Europe. “America is pretending like we’re this island. The Fed, in my estimation, has had this very arrogant viewpoint that they can go the other way.”

“The best thing the Fed can do now is to say, ‘We’re standing pat. We’re not going to do anything. We’re just going to stay here,'” he concluded.

“source -cncb”]