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NGKF's Bob Bach On Fed Decision: 'It’s An Eye-Opener'

Fed chair Janet Yellen and her band of bankers did what many expected yesterday, nixing a June rate hike. But Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Americas director of research Bob Bach tells Bisnow that the Fed’s moves are very telling for the commercial real estate sector.

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“Although the outlook has only changed very modestly in today’s statement, it’s an eye-opener for the CRE industry,” Bob (pictured) tells us. “We have been wringing our hands over rising interest rates for several years—increases that still haven’t appeared and may arrive even further in the future and at a slower pace than almost anyone imagined.”

The Fed came into 2016 with a more hawkish mindset, holding four rate hikes in its sights—but early year market turmoil and general economic sluggishness had it dial back to just two hikes expected, with many Fed officials only predicting one 2016 rate increase.

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The Eccles Building, which houses the U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C.

The central bank also scaled back its economic forecasts for 2016 and 2017, and penciled in just three rate increases in both 2017 and 2018—down from March’s forecast of four annual increases.

“The Fed is acknowledging that growth has slowed and is likely to remain sluggish in the next two years,” Bob tells us. “The ‘lower for longer’ interest rate and growth outlook that has been so beneficial for commercial real estate will be with us a while longer.”

Yellen said next week’s Brexit referendum was one of the uncertainties that factored into the decision today, noting that Brexit “is a decision that could have consequences for economic and financial conditions in global financial markets.”

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Brexit would have its own impacts on real estate, although experts are mixed, with some saying a UK departure from the EU would mean a short-term boost to US real estate, particularly in the NYC luxury market—a major competitor with London. 

But Yellen and other central bankers have warned over recent weeks that Brexit could have serious negative economic consequences.

The Fed gave little indication about when the next rate hike would be, leaving its coming July meeting up in the air—just as Goldman Sachs predicted earlier this month.

But with billionaire moguls and Deutsche Bank analysts alike predicting a recession in the coming year, the Fed may take a more dovish approach.