Telling investors to pay attention to the Federal Reserve in the week ahead is like telling Chicago Cubs fans, "Wait till next year." You don't become an investor or a Cubs fan without patience for the institutions affecting your affinities.
Every Cubs fan knows "next year" is full of hope and promise even if hopes are building that "next year" could be this year. The Cubs are in the hunt for a wild card playoff spot with seven weeks left in the regular season. It's been 70 seasons since a World Series appearance and 107 since a win.
Long-term investors should realize by now that every Fed interest rate meeting brings with it the promise of clues as to when the central bank will begin raising rates. On Wednesday, the minutes of the most recent Fed meeting will be released. That July meeting may prove to be the last before the central bank raises interest rates. The bank is widely expected to raise rates at its September meeting. It's been almost seven years since the agency dropped its cost of cash for banks to zero.
The fate of neither is sealed though. Cubs fans know how an errant fly ball can spoil their dreams. The Fed's game plan is more methodical, yet faces an uncertain fate thanks to China's weakening economy threatening the global economy.
In May, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said, "If the economy continues to improve as I expect, I think it will be appropriate at some point this year" to begin raising interest rates. Just as Cubs fans hope the proverbial next season is this season, Wednesday's minutes of the July Fed meeting will give investors a clearer indication if this year will be the year it begins to raise interest rates.
Tom Hudson, financial journalist, hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami, where he is the vice president of news. Follow him on Twitternote>