FOMC: Interest rates could stay low for a while

No rate hike for November

The Federal Open Market Committee announced today that it will not raise rates in November, despite the growing case for raising them.

In fact, the committee issued a statement saying that we should expect rates to remain historically low “for some time.”

The FOMC noted the economic growth during the first half of the year, such as jobs gains and increase in household spending.

The increase in GDP even lead some to wonder if a rate hike in November was possible.

However, inflation is still running behind the committee’s objective of 2%. The Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0.25% to 0.5%. While it said the case for a rate hike strengthened, the committee voted to wait for more progress towards its objectives.

The Fed is waiting on further improvement to the labor market as well as a return to 2% inflation.

“The Fed’s decision to stand pat was almost universally expected, not least because it is now taken as a given that the Fed won’t raise interest rates at one of the four (of eight) FOMC meetings each year when there is no scheduled press conference or update to the projections,” Capital Economics Chief Economist Paul Ashworth said.

“Given that the presidential election race has tightened considerably in the past few days, it also makes sense to delay any rate hike until after election day next week,” Ashworth said.

The committee said it expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate. The federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. 

“As expected, the Fed put off a rate hike until next month,” said Curt Long, National Association of Federal Credit Unions chief economist. “Given the growing amount of uncertainty over the election, it makes sense for the Fed to take a wait-and-see approach.”

“Nevertheless, positive job data and strengthening inflation mean that a rate hike is more likely than not in December,” Long said.

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