Federal Reserve remains patient on future interest rate adjustments due to trade and fiscal budget negotiations.

Becky Berkman

2019-02-04 07:42:00 Mon ET

Federal Reserve remains patient on future interest rate adjustments due to global headwinds and impasses over American trade and fiscal budget negotiations. Fed Chair Jerome Powell pledges that future interest rate adjustments react to generic macroeconomic conditions.

Patience can be a key virtue. U.S. economic history suggests that the federal funds rate tends to peak in the reasonable range of 5.5%-6.5%. In comparison, several eminent economists such as former Fed Chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke suggest that we may enter a new era of persistently low interest rates. This putative scenario can be good news for debtors such as American households and federal government, the latter of which now carries about $16 trillion public debt. The same putative scenario may become bad news for most U.S. retirees who live off meager interest income on their deposits and annuities. This low-interest-rate environment can inadvertently continue to inflate asset prices. As a result, U.S. stocks soar in response to the dovish monetary policy stance with balance sheet flexibility. As the Federal Reserve keeps the key interest rate in the target range of 2.25%-2.5%, the trade-weighted average U.S. dollar index plummets to 91%. The recent greenback depreciation reflects a major reversal of U.S. credit flows in comparison to the 95% dollar peak back in January 2017.

 


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