The Start Of A Brave New World

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The Start of a Brave New World
The US economy was finally taken off extreme life support when the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the federal funds target for the first time in nearly a decade at last week’s policy meeting to 0.5%. In contrast to September, when the FOMC shocked markets by failing to raise the policy rate, there were no major surprises embedded in the press statement. The Fed viewed current growth as being moderate due to a solid domestic economy being offset by some external weakness. Meanwhile, outlook risks for growth and the labour market were deemed to be balanced. From the perspective of financial markets, the FOMC conveyed that it did not believe monetary policy was tight. Conditions remain accommodative. The path of future interest rate rises is expected to remain gradual, but this outlook is based on a forecast and is, therefore, not guaranteed. The continuation of monetary accommodation increases the chances of further labour market tightening and inflation eventually returning to the 2% target. The importance of the future path of actual inflation was also stressed. Significant deviation between forecasts and observed outcomes could impact the pace of subsequent policy rate increases. The baseline outlook for Fed policy in 2016 remains unchanged: four increases in the federal funds rate of 25 basis points. Commentators appeared pleased with the quality of the Fed’s communication, particularly given the criticism following the decision
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