Finally! No New Rate Cut!

by Joseph · 0 comments

in Personal Finance

The Fed Leaves Rates at 2%Ben Bernanke and the Fed decided today to leave their federal funds rate at its current level of 2%.  They’re finally starting to worry about inflation and seem to think that there is much more upside risk (by inflation of course) than downside risk (recession and a slowing economy) at this point.  I’m inclined to agree with good old Bernanke on this one.  Although I’ve been thinking that this was the case over the past several rate cuts that the Federal Reserve has made.

The question that I’m asking at this point however is: is it too little and too late?  I’ll admit that the financial markets have been arduous lately.  I know this more than a lot of people, because I work at a credit union in Phoenix, AZ.  I’ve seen the massive slowdowns and read about the increasing loan delinquencies and writedowns that are taking place.  This with a relatively small (relatively speaking) and very conservative credit union with around $3 billion in assets.  Things must really be difficult for a lot of the larger financial institutions.  It’s obvious they are actually from the constant news of new write-downs.  This so-called recession has even taken from us one of the largest investing companies in the U.S., Bear Stearns.  Things are definitely crazy, but have these huge rate cuts been helping?  Or have they actually been hindering the recovery process?

These Things Take Time

Anyone who’s studied even the most basic of economics knows that market changes don’t happen overnight.  They also don’t happen in a week, or even a month.  Large changes in the financial markets can take months and even years to happen.  Keeping this in mind, one would ask why the Fed cut rates twice to a total of 1.25% percent over a matter of about a week and a half not too long ago?  These things take time, right?  So why so much over such a short amount of time?  I understand their reasoning.  They were hoping to restore confidence to the financial markets… specifically the stock markets.  Something that’s not exactly in their job description.  However I won’t go into that as it’s a completely new topic.  My point in bringing this up is that I’m actually fairly convinced that these large and frequent cuts have done much more harm than good.  All opinions are welcome on the matter, and keep in mind that I am no economist and this is only my opinion.

Have you seen the price of oil lately?  Or the consumer confidence index?  They’re at an all time high and low, respectively speaking.  Obviously there are many factors going into these things, but it’d be foolish to assume or to say that these fed rate cuts have nothing to do with it.  I’m of the opinion that because of the .75% emergency rate cut that the Fed made back in January, followed by the .50% percent cut a week later that consumer confidence was actually hurt.  As a generally uneducated crowd when it comes to finance and the ways of the financial markets we sort of come to expect what’s normal.  What’s normal to us are small and steady rate changes.  .25% here and there up or down are pretty normal in our eyes.  Naturally when we see a much larger change that was initiated by an emergency Fed session we’re going to think something bad is going on.  Self-fulfilling prophesy is a relatively common term that floats around in economics.  In the case of these ridiculously large cuts by Bernanke and company this term might be applied.  As consumers we noticed large emergency cuts and naturally starting to believe that things were much worse than we had previously thought.  Naturally this caused us to become skeptical of the whole situation and we began being more careful with our money.  Self fulfilling prophecy?  I do believe so.

What I’d Like to See

I’d love to see a rate increase in the next few months.  Inflation is going to be a huge problem if the Fed doesn’t do something to try and combat it.  Keeping rates steady will hopefully stop any more increases in the level of inflation, but it’s not going to cut it down.  Not at all.  

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