Investors take for granted that the Federal Reserve controls interest rates. But a surprisingly lively couple of days in short-term money markets has meant that the “how” became nearly as important as the “why.” The stress started on Monday in the market for repurchase agreements, or repos. Repos are short-term loans mainly used by banks and hedge funds in their daily bond trading and brokerage businesses.
President Trump escalated his unprecedented attacks against America’s central bank Friday, calling Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell an “enemy” of the United States that is as bad as China, a tweet that triggered a stock market slide and came minutes after Powell vowed to keep the economy growing.
Cheaper mortgages are usually a boon to the housing market. But this year, a sharp drop in mortgage rates hasn’t provided much of a lift, and that could bode poorly for the Federal Reserve’s efforts to shore up economic growth.
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade on Wednesday as it attempted to guard the record-long economic expansion against mounting global risks. The widely expected quarter-point move, the Fed’s first since it cut rates to near zero in 2008, is meant to protect the economy against the potentially harmful effects of a growth slowdown in China and Europe and uncertainty from President Trump’s trade war.
The Federal Reserve this week is all but certain to cut interest rates despite unemployment being at historic lows, a highly unusual action that is shaping up to be the biggest gamble of Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell’s brief tenure as leader of the world’s most powerful economic institution. Some economists, Fed officials and people on Main Street say the Fed’s action will benefit the stock market more than the real economy. And they argue cutting rates would introduce risks that could worsen the next downturn.
The Federal Reserve kept interest rates steady on Wednesday and signaled that it may not raise them again anytime soon, a surprising reversal from last month, when the central bank indicated it expected to continue raising rates in 2019. In a statement following a two-day meeting of its policymaking committee, the Fed said that economic growth remained “solid,” and that it expected growth to continue.