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The Fed's Mixed Feelings On Rate Hikes

The Fed's Mixed Feelings On Rate Hikes

The U.S. Federal Reserve would prefer to be predictable. However, when global markets are unpredictable, the Fed is left with no choice but to be unpredictable.

When the Fed raised interest rates back in December, it’s likely that the members had planned a very predictable and steady rate hike schedule similar to those of most past tightening cycles. However, economic weakness in China and Europe and the surprise Brexit vote last month once again has the Fed’s next move a mystery to investors.

Related Link: The U.S. Economy Is Stronger Than Investors Anticipated, Which Could Be Very Bad News

Even the Fed members themselves seem to be at odds about if and when the next rate hike is coming.

Here’s a collection of what members have said in the weeks following the Brexit:

  • Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker: “Considering the economic projections, I anticipate that it may be appropriate for up to two additional rate hikes this year.”
  • St. Louis Fed President James Bullard: “In the aftermath of Brexit, people want to wait and see and I’ happy to go with that for now. There’s really no rush.”
  • Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan: The situation calls for a “patient, gradual” approach to rate hikes.
  • Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart: The Fed should take a “cautious and patient” approach to raising rates.
  • Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester: “Payroll growth slowed considerably in May, raising the question of whether we were at the start of a reversal from the considerable progress that's been made in labor markets, or whether the weak reading was the type of transitory change we typically see during expansions. Hiring rebounded in June, alleviating that concern.”
  • Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari: The Fed should “take our time” when it comes to raising rates.

Perhaps the most important voice of all, that of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, has been silent on the issue since the Brexit vote.

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