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As Unemployment Falls, Fed Puts Rate Increase on the Radar

Wall Street Journal (02/20/14) Jon Hilsenrath; Victoria McGrane

The U.S. Federal Reserve has held short-term interest rates near zero since December 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, and chairman Janet Yellen shows no appetite for raising them soon. Still, a few Fed officials argued at a Jan. 28-29 policy meeting that increases might be needed soon to prevent the economy from overheating, according to the recently released minutes of the meeting.

Surprising declines in the unemployment rate in recent months have forced officials to start discussing their plans for eventual rate hikes, what will impel them to act, and how to guide the public about their likely course in the months ahead. Fed officials at the meeting agreed, “it would soon be appropriate” for the Fed to adjust its guidance. But there appeared to be little agreement about how they should describe their interest rate plans in the future.