Correspondent, Chicago
Ann's Feed
Sep 17, 2015

Fed holds rates steady in nod to global economic weakness

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Thursday in a nod to concerns about a weak world economy, but left open the possibility of a modest policy tightening later this year.

In what amounted to a tactical retreat, the U.S. central bank said an array of global risks and other factors had convinced it to delay what would have been the first rate hike in nearly a decade.

Sep 16, 2015

Agony for Wall St. economists, investors as Fed meets

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street’s top economists are on unfamiliar ground: as the Federal Reserve decides whether to raise interest rates, for the first time in years they are deeply divided on what will happen.

Some observers of the world’s most powerful central bank, which will announce its decision on Thursday, blame the Fed for being unusually enigmatic and sending mixed signals. Is it truly “data-dependent” or has it been swayed by the recent China-induced market gyrations?

Sep 14, 2015

Credibility, ‘gradual’ approach at stake as Fed weighs rate rise

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve, facing this week its biggest policy decision yet under Chair Janet Yellen, puts its credibility on the line regardless of whether it waits or raises interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

In a way it is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for the Fed despite months of fine-tuning its message, dissecting economic data, and carefully building a consensus around the idea of a cautious and gradual “lift-off” from near zero rates towards levels it considers normal.

Aug 24, 2015

Fed’s Lockhart sees 2015 rate hike, but reading inflation ‘tricky’

By Ann Saphir

BERKELEY, Calif. (Reuters) – A top U.S. central banker appears to have cooled to the idea of an interest rate hike next month, saying on Monday only that the Federal Reserve will likely begin raising rates “sometime this year.”

Just two weeks ago, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart told reporters he was “very disposed” to a rate hike in September.

Aug 17, 2015

Harvard’s Kaplan, once at Goldman Sachs, to head Dallas Fed

By Ann Saphir

(Reuters) – The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on Monday picked Robert Steven Kaplan to be its next president, ending a nine-month search just as U.S. central bankers near the critical decision of when and how fast to raise interest rates.

Kaplan, a 58-year-old Harvard business school professor and former Goldman Sachs vice chairman, takes his post on Sept. 8, the Dallas Fed said in an email. He succeeds Richard Fisher, who ran the Dallas Fed for 10 years until his retirement in March. Fisher was an outspoken policy hawk.

Aug 5, 2015

U.S. small-business borrowing surges in June: PayNet

By Ann Saphir

(Reuters) – Borrowing by U.S. small businesses jumped to a record in June, an index released Wednesday showed, signaling tighter labor conditions that may help build the case for the Federal Reserve’s first interest-rate increase in nearly a decade.   

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index rose to 143.3 in June from an upwardly revised May reading of 131. It was the highest level since the index was launched in 2005, and was up 19 percent from the level a year earlier.

Aug 4, 2015

Tech lift to productivity overlooked? The Fed doesn’t think so

By Ann Saphir

SAN FRANCISCO(Reuters) – Steve Gutmann used to have a basement that he never used. His Honda Civic sat idle in front of his Portland, Ore. house. 

Now strangers use to book Gutmann’s $6-an-hour car for errands and travelers stay in his newly refurbished basement apartment, listed at $115 a night on AirBnb. Gutmann and a business partner are developing a new app that lets people get more use out of their possessions.

Aug 2, 2015

Tummy tucks, country clubs tick up on Yellen’s waggish rates dashboard

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Janet Yellen made her
reputation as an early spotter of the looming slump seven years
ago when she highlighted some unorthodox indicators of decline
in consumer spending: tummy tucks, gourmet dining and country
club memberships.

Now she is Federal Reserve Chair, Yellen will find a much
brighter picture from her novel monitoring system as she and the
Fed board mull the first U.S. interest rate hike for nine years,
which could come as early as September.

Jul 16, 2015

Fed’s Williams vows more transparency after meeting with Fed Up

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – San Francisco Fed President John Williams has promised more transparency after a rare meeting with a coalition of community and labor groups which also urged the U.S. central banker to keep interest rates low.

Williams largely dismissed their call to hold off on interest-rate hikes, repeating his mantra that monetary policy will depend on economic data. But he said the meeting earlier this week pushed him to “think a little more proactively” about how the Fed recruits and promotes top management.

Jul 15, 2015

September ‘plausible’ timing for first rate hike: Fed’s Williams

By Ann Saphir

MESA, Ariz. (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve could start raising rates as soon as September and lift them once more before the end of the year, a top Fed official said on Wednesday.

“September would be a very plausible time to start liftoff,” San Francisco Fed President John Williams told reporters after giving a speech to the Mesa Chamber of Commerce. Inflation in his view is likely to be back up at the Fed’s 2 percent target, with a 50 percent chance of being higher than that, by the end of 2016. And the U.S. economy is likely to be at full employment “well before” that.