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
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday it will aim to keep interest rates to a target between 0.25 and 0.5 percent through March. The Fed turned heads in December by finally hiking rates off the 0-to-0.25 percent floor; the first time they had risen in nearly a decade.
Recent signals for the future of the economic recovery have been decidedly mixed, and the Fed admitted its long-term inflation target of two percent still appears to be a long way off. The statement continued the Fed's habit of assuring observers that the increase in interest rates will be slow and gradual. But it also suggested most of the Fed's decision-making members feel the forces holding down inflation, such as oil prices, are temporary.
At least one of those members said in January that four rate hikes in 2016 would be "in the ballpark." This week's was the first of eight chances the Fed will have this year to adjust the course of monetary policy, leaving seven remaining for those four possible hikes. Jeff Spross
Chipotle has kindly asked that patrons use their hands only to stuff burritos and chips and guac in their mouths — and not to wave firearms around inside their stores. The fast food chain said Monday that a recent "open carry" demonstration — in which pro-gun activists go to public places while brandishing assault weapons and the like — prompted it to make the policy announcement.
The demonstration caused "many of our customers anxiety and discomfort," Chipotle said in a statement, adding that "because of this, we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."