The Fed Increases Interest Rates Again by 0.75%

Peter Taberner

The US Federal Reserve has announced a third consecutive 0.75% interest rate rise that will push the key rate to between 3% and 3.25%, its highest level since the peak of the financial crash in 2008.

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As widely expected, the Fed has remained steadfast in its attempts to control high inflation, which rose by an annualized 8.3% in August. The Fed hikes rates yesterday by 0.75% to a new rate of between 3% and 3.25%.

The Fed’s long-term goal is the combination of maximum employment, while achieving the target inflation rate of 2%.

The Federal Open Market Committee said after the announcement that inflation is still elevated due to imbalances in supply and demand following the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the price pressures which has particularly affected energy and food prices.

Russia’s continued conflict with Ukraine was also highlighted as a main driver of inflation, and the upward pressure on prices that it has caused is a ball and chain around global economic activity.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who recently sent out an aggressive hawkish message over rising inflation, said that the latest rate rise is necessary to put the brakes on demand slowing down the price pressure forces, in the hope that it will ensure that there is no long-lasting damage to the economy.

Yet in the short to medium term there are concerns that continued high interest rates will choke off growth and jobs, having a knock-on effect on demand that could point the US towards recession which some analysts argue is already the case.

More Rate Rises Likely 

The Fed has also signaled that it is not finished raising rates, as it believes that high inflation risks persist in damaging what the Fed is looking to achieve. The Fed signaled it expects to hike by another 1.25% before the end of 2022.

Alongside inflation, labor market conditions, readings on public health and international developments will all be considered before any adjustments to monetary policy.

The rate hike of 0.75% will not come as a surprise to analysts and investors alike, although some market commentators feared that the Fed would take even more robust action and call a full 1% rate hike.

According to the CME Fed Watch Tool, only one in five investors thought that full percentage point leap would happen.

As for the next Fed meeting in November, the figures so far revealed that just under 69% of respondents believe that there will be a fourth consecutive 0.75% rise.

31% of those questioned thought that there would be a more conservative 0.5% rise next time around.

Investment management firm Quilter Cheviot is confident that forceful action from the Fed will continue as it has promised. Richard Carter, the head of fixed interest research at the firm, asserted the Fed would have no problem causing a recession with rate hikes, leaving investors hoping that there will be clear signs that price pressures are easing.

Stock Markets Fall, US Dollar Rises, Bank of Japan Intervenes 

US stock markets reacted negatively to the Fed announcement, as the S&P 500 Index closed on 21st September with a value of 3789.93, a fall of 1.71%.

The Nasdaq 100 Index had more bad news as it dropped by 1.80%.

The US Dollar has enjoyed a dominant run against the UK Pound and other major currencies, partly due to the Dollar being seen as a safe haven investment as Vladimir Putin has signaled the Ukraine conflict will escalate.

The EUR/USD currency pair reached a new 19-year low price, while the USD/JPY currency pair rose to trade well above ¥145 at its highest level since 1998 before dropping very sharply as the Bank of Japan intervened in the market to prop up the Yen. The GBP/USD currency pair reached a new 37-year low a little above $1.12.

Peter Taberner
Peter has been a UK-based freelance journalist for over 15 years, and has written for several financial publications including Funds Europe, Trade Finance Magazine, International Finance Magazine.

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