Fed Hits the Brakes: No Rate Hikes Projected in 2019

At its meeting on March 20, 2019, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) maintained the benchmark federal funds rate at the target range of 2.25% to 2.50% that was set in December 2018.

This in itself was not surprising. But other communications signaled a definite hiatus in the Fed’s policy of raising interest rates and tightening the money supply.

The FOMC has raised the funds rate nine times since December 2015, with four increases in 2018 alone. As recently as September 2018, the committee projected three more increases in 2019. That dropped to two projected increases at the December meeting. But the March projections suggest that there may be no rate increases in 2019 at all.

The FOMC also indicated that it would slow its program of reducing excess reserves of Treasuries and other government securities that were built up during and after the recession in a policy known as quantitative easing. The reduction program will stop after September 2019 unless…

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