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Atlanta Fed President: Time for a serious discussion on raising interest rates

FOMC divided on rate hike

Although current market conditions haven’t been perfect, they are now at a point that warrants a “serious discussion” on raising interest rates, or so says Dennis Lockhart, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president, according to an article by Steve Matthews and Christopher Condon for Bloomberg.

The Federal Open Market Committee will meet on September 20 and 21 in order to decide if interest rates should be raised in September.

When the FOMC released its minutes for the June meeting, it showed a divided committee. Overall, the minutes seemed to show that the Fed would not raise rates until December or later.

After that, however, at the end of August, Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve System, hinted in a speech that a rate hike in the near term is not off the table, and some speculate that it could come as soon as September.

That being said, some recent economic factors seem to point to a rate hike in December or later. Payroll employment increased in August, but not as much as ADP predicted, and probably not enough for a rate hike in September.

From the Bloomberg article:

“After relatively weak growth over the first half of the year, I expect a stronger second half,” Lockhart said to the National Association for Business Economics, citing the bank’s estimate. Third-quarter growth was tracking at 3.3 percent on Friday, according to the Atlanta Fed’s tracking estimate.

The economy is “making progress” toward full employment, Lockhart said, though progress in moving inflation toward the 2 percent goal may have stalled.

While different economic factors make the probability of a rate hike uncertain for now, Lockhart says it is time to look at raising interest rates.

“I am satisfied at this point that conditions warrant that serious discussion,” Lockhart said.

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