Fed Remains On Rate-Raise Fence

Foundering currencies and cratering commodities point to reluctance to raise rates when FOMC meets next month.

The now-public minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meeting in July confirm what we already knew. The FOMC didn’t know then if and when it would raise interest rates, and the members won’t know again until they’re forced to make a call in September.

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A continued down move in stocks would simplify the Fed’s choice. The part of the minutes that caused the markets to perceive the Fed was less likely to tighten than ease was the discussion on inflation and to some extent on China, which has continued to allow the yuan to decline.

Multiple other currencies are dropping against the dollar, too. Combine that with falling commodity prices including cratering oil and the chances are zip that the Fed will raise rates when the FOMC meets on Sept. 18.

In other economic news, weekly jobless claims rose slightly to 277,000. Meanwhile, CoreLogic, a major mortgage research and analytics company, reported that July home sales in Southern California were the highest July number since 2006. Think about it. The highest since July 2006. Remember what happened after that.

Read more from today’s commentary.

Dwight Johnston is the chief economist of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and president of Dwight Johnston Economics. He is the author of a popular commentary site and is a frequent speaker at credit union board planning sessions and industry conferences.

August 20, 2015

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