Economy Watch: Interest Rates Stay Still

As widely expected, the Federal Open Market Committee maintained the target federal funds rate at 1 percent to 1.25 percent. The committee noted the likelihood of gradual rate increases down the line.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. President Trump is expected to release his choice for chair Nov. 2.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. President Trump is expected to release his choice for chair Nov. 2.

The Federal Open Market Committee decided not to adjust interest rates on Nov. 1, maintaining the target range for the federal funds rate at 1 percent to 1.25 percent. The vote was unanimous and largely expected by economists. The gradual pace of hikes doesn’t seem to have upset the economy, or real estate markets.

According to the central bank’s statement, “economic activity has been rising at a solid rate despite hurricane-related disruptions. Although the hurricanes caused a drop in payroll employment in September, the unemployment rate declined further.”

Also, “the Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.”

So maybe higher interest rates will come in December, as economists and other observers expect, though it might partly depend on the direction payroll employment took in October, which will be reported Nov. 3.

Today, the Trump administration is expected to release the president’s choice for chair of the Federal Reserve. Recent precedent has mostly seen chairs re-nominated for second or third terms (Arthur Burns, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke), but early reports say Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell will get the job.