The Federal Reserve lowered its federal funds rate, the benchmark overnight lending rate at which banks lend to one another, by 50 basis points to 1 percent at Wednesday’s end of month scheduled meeting.
The latest rate is the lowest since 2004 and joins a new round of global cuts. China and Norway also cut rates on Wednesday, and other countries are expected to follow suite in an attempt to change the economic downturn and fight the ongoing crisis in the credit markets.
The Feds newest reduction follows on the heels of its emergency 1/2 percent interest rate cut on October 8 when world central banks first joined in their coordinated efforts to try to stabilize financial markets and ease out of the global credit crunch.
Today’s move was widely expected, although a minority of analysts suggested the Fed could cut rates by three-quarters of a percentage point to 0.75 percent, marking a never before seen low. Immediately following the announcement, U.S. stocks inched lower.
The announcement was made by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), who released the following statement:
Continue reading Fed cuts interest rates to 1 percent, expects inflation to moderate
Consumers got a respite on inflation in September, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is the most watched government inflation barometer, retreated to 4.9% during the previous twelve months.
While overall U.S. consumer prices remained virtually unchanged, food prices increased and energy prices tumbled. September’s 30-day standstill follows an August monthly drop of 0.1% and an annual inflation rate of 5.4%.
Falling energy prices combined with a slowing economy eased consumer prices those two months. Inflation began its most ugly uptrend in April. It peaked to a 17-year high of 5.6 percent in July, during a time consumer and energy prices were at their highest — oil reached a record near $147 per barrel.
"Consumer price inflation has gone dormant, as the recent abrupt slowdown in world economic growth has led to sharp declines in energy costs, while weak domestic demand is putting downward pressure on retail prices in many key markets," wrote Dr. Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist for Global Insight.
Oil prices tumbled Wednesday, closing on Nymex under $75 per barrel for the first time in more than one year. With less costly oil, weaker import prices and falling producer prices, inflation in October is expected to ease further.
Continue reading Consumer prices flat, inflation eases to 4.9% in September
The US Inflation Calculator website has been updated with the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released Thursday, October 16. The newest figures indicate consumer prices (inflation) rose 4.9 in September from a year ago, compared to 5.4% in August. On a monthly basis, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was virtually unchanged following a 0.1% decrease in August.
The Inflation Calculator has been updated to use the latest figures for calculation, as has the following pages:
Consumer Price Index Data from 1913 to 2008
Current Inflation Rates: 1999-2008
Historical Inflation Rates: 1914-2008
Annual Averages for Rate of Inflation
An in depth look at the released Labor Department data may be read via the article Consumer prices flat, inflation eases to 4.9% in September.
Producer prices fell in September with lower energy prices, and dropped for the second consecutive month, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures prices at the factory door and inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, decreased in September to 0.4%. The drop was in line with analysts’ expectations. September’s decline follows a 0.9% drop in August and a 1.2% increase in July — a month that marked a 27-year high.
Falling energy prices was the key to easing price pressures as highlighted by the stark contrast of Tuesday’s Nymex crude-oil price of $78.63 per barrel compared to a record high near $147 per barrel in July. Energy prices fell 2.9 percent in September after tumbling 4.6 percent in August — a month that marked the biggest drop in nearly two years.
Continue reading Producer prices fall for second straight month
Inflation worries were thrown aside as interest rates were cut on Wednesday in a synchronized multi-country response to try to stabilize world financial markets and ease out of the global credit crunch.
Less than a day after Fed chairman Ben Bernanke hinted a rate cut could be in the works, an unscheduled emergency announcement was made by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to lower its target for the benchmark federal funds rate 50 basis points to 1-1/2 percent. In a coordinated effort, the European Central Bank, China, Britain, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland also cut rates.
The following was released in a joint statement by the central banks:
Continue reading US Federal Reserve and world central banks cut interest rates
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke signaled Tuesday that a cut in interest rates may turn into a reality as a result of the current economic landscape and a better inflation outlook.
“The combination of the incoming data and recent financial developments suggests that the outlook for economic growth has worsened and that the downside risks to growth have increased,” Bernanke said at the National Association for Business Economics Annual Meeting in Washington.
“At the same time, the outlook for inflation has improved somewhat, though it remains uncertain. In light of these developments, the Federal Reserve will need to consider whether the current stance of policy remains appropriate."
Continue reading Fed chief hints at rate cuts, and notes better inflation outlook
Although the Labor Department’s last report indicated an easing of inflation to 5.4% and a research group said on Thursday that September inflation pressures fell to a more than six-year low, a Fed president thinks lowering interest rates is not the answer right now.
“I think lowering interest rates right now, maybe, is not the right response,” James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, told an audience in Bloomington, Indiana after giving a speech on Thursday.
The Federal Reserve is naturally inclined to raise interest rates to combat inflation, and lower them to reduce the pull of downward economic activity or recession.
Continue reading Inflation eases, but Fed’s Bullard concerned with cutting interest rates
The European Central Bank (ECB) shifted away slightly from an inflationary guard on Thursday, as the bank suggested the possibility of reducing interest rates later this year to help spur growth. A European interest rate cut could, some economists say, help reduce U.S. inflation.
As expected Thursday, the central bank’s Governing Council left its benchmark interest rate at 4.25%. But statements by ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet focused on declining economic growth.
“Economic activity in the euro area is weakening with contracting domestic demand and tighter financing condition,” Trichet said. “The economic outlook is subject to increased downside risks.”
Continue reading European inflation pressures recede, and could help U.S.
With the latest financial sector turmoil and easing inflation, many economists were at least thinking the Federal Reserve would reduce interest rates on Tuesday. That was not the case. The Fed left the benchmark federal funds rate stead at 2 %, where it’s been since April and for the third straight meeting.
The vote was unanimous, without even a dissent from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, who voted to increase rates during two prior Fed meetings.
A MarketWatch article by Greg Robb aptly opened with the the likely intent on the move:
"[The fed is] trying to project an appearance of calm and stability amid the turmoil of financial markets."
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement reflects continual concern over economic growth and the direction of inflation despite the latter showing a slight easing according to a report today by the a Labor Department.
Continue reading Fed leaves rates steady at 2% despite financial turmoil and easing inflation
Inflation eased to 5.4% in the past year, as consumer prices declined 0.1% in August and marked the first decline in nearly two years, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday.
With inflation’s decline, some economists said the path was paved for a potential interest rate cut after the Federal Reserve’s monthly meeting on Tuesday.
“This frees the Fed’s hands to cut rates, if they deem that to be the right move later today,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wachovia.
“If inflation continued to accelerate, it would make it very difficult for the Fed to cut interest rates,” said Vitner. “But now, if they need to cut interest rates, they will do it.”
Continue reading Inflation eases to 5.4% as consumer prices fall 0.1%