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Fed Decision to Hold Steady Was a ‘Close Call’

Wall Street Journal (09/22/15) Michael Derby

Federal Reserve officials who have spoken following last week’s high-profile policy meeting say a rate increase this year remains in the cards. In fact, central bankers say they weren’t far from taking that first step to start raising short-term interest rates. The decision not to raise rates was a “close call,” Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said Monday. Given all the tumult tied to China and other foreign economies and the resulting market churn, he said “I thought it prudent to wait” longer to raise rates. While officials agree rates should rise this year, comments since the meeting show a split on when exactly that should happen. Lockhart, who holds a voting role on the Federal Open Market Committee and often is looked to as a bellwether for the consensus view of policy makers, thinks the Fed will raise rates this year, citing an economy that is “performing solidly” amid good job gains. But he also said that while the Fed can act at any of its two remaining meetings this year, there is a tight window to gain the needed confidence to boost rates at the late October session.