Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Fed risks Trump's fury over rate increases

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin right says the president respects the central bank's independence JACQUELYN MARTIN APTreasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin right says the president respects the central bank's independence
Russell Knight | 18 October, 2018, 20:25

"Participants generally anticipated that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate would most likely be consistent with a sustained economic expansion, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near 2 percent over the medium term", the Fed's minutes said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that Trump respects the independence of the Fed despite even though he prefers low interest rates, the Associated Press reports. The display of solidarity raises the prospect of a fourth rate-hike this year in December.

Despite fierce blowback from President Trump, the Federal Reserve's policymakers unanimously agree they should keep hiking interest rates to cap inflation.

Key U.S. economic data to watch today includes the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index, the Conference Board's Leading Index and Weekly Unemployment Claims.

On the other hand, while risks were 'roughly balanced, ' some Fed members said instability in emerging economies - many of which are heavily indebted and vulnerable when United States rates rise - could 'spread more broadly through the global economy and financial markets'.

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Senior Federal Reserve officials believe that interest rate hikes should continue until the economy slows down, according to minutes from the central bank's September meeting.

This would move U.S. interest rates slightly above what policymakers say is "neutral" - that is, neither slowing nor speeding the economy - but some participants said the Fed may need to go even further than that.

In the minutes it says "a couple" of policymakers stated that they would not be in favour of adopting a restrictive policy stance without "clear signs of an overheating economy".

The Fed also took notice of clouds forming on the horizon. Auto loan rates are at a nine-year high, and 30-year fixed mortgage rates recently climbed to their highest level in seven years. Following the rate increase in September, Trump said he was "not happy" with the decision.

Companies facing higher materials costs told the Fed they had an 'increased ability to raise the prices of their products, ' according to the minutes.

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