Finance Business

US Federal Reserve holds interest rates at 22-year high

Written by Jimmy Rustling

The U.S. Federal Reserve voted Wednesday to hold interest rates at a 22-year high for a second straight meeting, as it moves to slow stubborn inflation without damaging the strong economy.

The Fed’s decision to keep its benchmark lending rate between 5.25 percent and 5.5 percent gives policymakers time to “assess additional information and its implications for monetary policy,” the central bank said in a statement.

Despite the lack of monetary tightening, the United States still has a long way to go in bringing inflation down to its long-term two percent target sustainably, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference on Wednesday.

He added that the Fed, “is not thinking about rate cuts right now at all.” The Fed’s widely expected decision to hold rates steady marks the first time officials have done so at two consecutive meetings since they began tightening monetary policy last year.

The U.S. central bank added that any future decisions on policy firming would “take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments.” Since peaking at more than seven percent in June last year, inflation as measured by the Fed’s favored yardstick has slowed by more than half — although it remains stuck firmly above three percent.

Many analysts, including those employed by the Fed, were predicting the United States would enter a recession this year due to the rapid pace of interest rate hikes.

When the Fed hikes interest rates it raises the cost of borrowing from the bank, which is supposed to dampen economic activity and weaken the labor market. But despite its aggressive monetary tightening, the Fed noted that “economic activity expanded at a strong pace in the third quarter.” Job gains remain strong, and the unemployment rate has stayed low, it added. The Fed’s move is likely to raise expectations that it is done hiking interest rates and is moving into a prolonged pause. Despite a recent series of strong economic data, the Fed’s rate decision has been made easier by a surge in yields on longer-term government bonds.

Whereas the Fed’s key short-term rate mainly affects the borrowing rates offered by banks, Treasury yields determine “everything from mortgage rates to corporate and municipal bond yields,” KPMG chief economist Diane Swonk wrote in a recent note to clients.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.