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Time to say goodbye to the Federal Funds rate?

Fed minutes hint at the possibility

The Federal Reserve released its November meeting minutes on Wednesday, which showed the Fed could be looking towards replacing its federal-funds rate, according to an article by Katy Burne for The Wall Street Journal.

The November’s minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee shows that the Fed would replace the federal-funds rate under certain scenarios, such as an environment where short-term interest rates tend to gyrate more frequently, the article states.

From the article:

Regardless of the level of bank reserves in the financial system, the policy rate “could be an unsecured overnight market rate or an interest rate administered by the Federal Reserve,” according to the minutes.

Policy makers added in the minutes, “The FOMC might instead target an overnight Treasury repurchase agreement rate.” The Federal Reserve Bank of New York earlier this month said it was considering publishing such a rate, although a parallel one already is published elsewhere.

The federal-funds rate sets the benchmark for rates across the rest of the financial system. For this reason, a hike in the federal-funds rate also means an increase in interest rates.

For now, however, it seems that a rate hike in December is probable. The FOMC’s conclusion in November pointed to a December rate hike, and the minutes further confirmed this belief.

In fact, the odds that the Federal Reserve will elect to raise interest rates during the December meeting reached 100%, according to the latest Bloomberg calculation based on futures trading.  

“While committee members remain divided in several important aspects, the consensus does seem to favor a quarter-point rate hike next month,” said Curt Long, National Association of Federal Credit Unions chief economist.

“Looking ahead to 2017, disagreements over how close the economy is to full employment and whether it is prudent to allow inflation to run above target could shape how firmly the committee can hold to its promise to tighten its monetary stance gradually,” Long said.

In fact, it seems that President-elect Donald Trump’s election and the market’s response will confirm basis for a rate hike next month.

“The positive stock market reaction to Trump's win, which is mainly due to the expectation of a large fiscal stimulus next year, has reinforced expectations of a rate hike next month,” Capital Economics Chief Economist Paul Ashworth said. “Fed Chair Janet Yellen did nothing to dampen those expectations in her congressional testimony last week.”

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