The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it will hold interest rates steady at 0.25 to 0.5 percent. It made the same choice back in January, after raising rates off the 0 to 0.25 percent floor in December.
This was how the 10 voting members on the Fed were widely expected to rule, but the vote breakdowns are interesting. Both the December and January decisions were unanimous. Today's vote included one dissenter, who wanted to hike again to the 0.5 to 0.75 percent range. What's striking is that even Stanley Fischer, who is arguably the ring-leader of the Fed's inflation hawks, was one of those voting to hold fire.
The lone dissent by Esther George could be seen as a sign that the January agreement to hold off is cracking. But a gradual rise in interest rates this year is also largely seen as a fait accompli, and their next chance to hike interest rates another notch will come in June. And there aren't that many Fed meetings each year. So it seems equally possible that hiking rates in December — on the assumption that inflation and wages would continue increasing as the economy gains strength — is something even the hawks are having second thoughts over. Jeff Spross