Rate Debate Heats Up Among Fed Officials
Wall Street Journal
(07/13/14) Jon Hilsenrath; Michael S. Derby
Some of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s regional bank presidents are making the case to raise interest rates from near zero sooner than they had originally intended due to recent improvements in the labor market. At the Fed’s June policy meeting most Fed officials expected rates would be raised in 2015, but that was prior to the U.S. Department of Labor’s report that unemployment has fallen to 6.1%, which was a surprise to Fed officials.
“We have made more progress toward our unemployment goals than we would have thought” earlier this year, says John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. This development “suggests that monetary policy can safely start the process of normalization a touch earlier” than previously thought. His remarks are notable because he tends to be an advocate for keeping interest rates low to help boost hiring.
Economy Needs Consumers to Chip In
(07/14/14) Jeffry Bartash
Although the recession ended in mid-2009, consumers have been reluctant to spend, spending about two-thirds of what they used to, which has kept U.S. growth well below its historical norm. Small wage increases and a tepid labor market have contributed to the reluctance to spend.
As of May consumer spending was climbing at a 2.9% annual pace, the slowest rate in five years. “For the economy to really kick into the next gear, we need the consumer to do more of the heavy lifting,” says Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics.
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