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Economy in Brief

FOMC Cuts Interest Rates as Growth & Trade War Concerns Rise
by Tom Moeller  September 18, 2019

The Federal Reserve lowered the target for the Fed Funds rate by 25 basis points to a range of 1.75% to 2.00% at today's FOMC meeting. The action was expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey, which does not foresee further action this year.

Fed officials indicated three areas of uncertainty about the outlook including the developing growth slowdown abroad, U.S. trade policy and low inflation. These concerns were also expressed at the June meeting when rates also were lowered.

The statement which accompanied today's action was similar to the one issued at the last meeting. It cited the strong pace of household spending and weaker business investment & exports.

The Fed released economic projections which were little revised from those issued in June. Real GDP growth of 2.2% this year, then 2.0% in 2020, 1.9% in 2021 and 1.8% in 2022 was changed from 2.1%, 2.0% and 1.8%. Core PCE inflation of 1.8% in 2019 is expected to be followed by 1.9% in 2020, then 2.0% in both 2021 and 2022. The unemployment rate is projected to average 3.7% this year and next, then rise to 3.8% in 2021 and 3.9% in 2022. These figures were revised from 3.6%, 3.7% and 3.8%, respectively. The projections for 2022 were newly released.

The press release for today's action can be found here.

Seven of the ten members of the FOMC voted to lower the funds rate at this time.

Current Last 2018 2017 2016 2015
Federal Funds Rate Target 1.75%-2.00% 2.00%-2.25% 1.82% 1.00% 0.40% 0.13
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