This is easy. In the week ahead, the Federal Reserve’s decision and statement on interest rates will hold significant sway over investors. What’s not easy is the Fed’s decision and statement on interest rates.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee will meet and discuss the state of the U.S. economy.
If enough of those gathered around the table believe the economy is accelerating at a healthy clip, rates will be raised. If there are enough doubters are among them, rates will remain the same.
Leading up to the meeting, there have been plenty of thoughts on what the group will decide.
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The Financial Times last week said an interest rate hike would be “the biggest shock to the markets since” Janet Yellen become chair of the bank two and a half years ago. There have been plenty of shocks in that time: Brexit, the Chinese devaluing their currency, the plunge in oil prices, negative interest rates, et cetera.
The Financial Times last week said an interest rate hike would be “the biggest shock to the markets since” Janet Yellen become chair of the bank two and a half years ago.
pickup in stock market volatility this month has been attributed to recalculating the odds of the Fed raising its interest rate sooner than expected. Many don’t think the bank will act at its meeting in November, less than a week before Election Day. The agency doesn’t want to be viewed as overtly political, though it’s increasingly pulled – sometimes willingly – into fiscal policy skirmishes. So if it were to act on rates before the end of the year, well, the week ahead would be the week to do it.
The data, which the Fed has steadily said it’s dependent on for its decisions, has been mixed. Job gains have been decent, and wages are rising, while productivity continues slipping, and the official inflation rate is stubbornly low. The economic statistics are unconvincing to many that the Fed should hike rates.
The simple fact for investors is the Fed still matters. The more difficult challenge is how to manage the suspense.
Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts “The Sunshine Economy” on WLRN-FM in Miami, where he is the vice president of news. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.