Fed expected to pass on rate hike

Lisa Napoli Sep 19, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Back home all eyes were on tomorrow, to tell the truth. The Fed meets to talk about interest rates. And there are plenty of signs the economy is slowing. We learned this morning new home construction is the lowest it’s been in more than three years. Wholesale prices, that is, inflation, came in flat. Again. Oil, meanwhile, fell more that two bucks today. From New York, Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli has more.

LISA NAPOLI: Any economist worth his salt was prognosticating today. And after the numbers released this morning, the financial crystal ball seems to be pretty clear to most of them:

JACK ALBERTINE: I think the Fed would be frankly out of their collective minds with these developments to raise interest rates. I don’t think they will.

That’s economic forecaster Jack Albertine. He says a lot of what’s stressing the economy is the housing bubble. He even used the B word to describe it:

ALBERTINE: What’s happening is the busting, if you will, bursting of the housing bubble and the bursting of the gasoline price bubble both have dampened the economy very significantly.

Economist Brian Bethune of Global Insight says these are signs that reality’s keeping pace with what the experts have been anticipating:

BRIAN BETHUNE: The economy is slowing down and inflation pressures are moderating.

But could the economy slow down too much if the Fed holds short-term interest rates steady? Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial isn’t worried. She says there’s a comfort zone for the Fed, and the slowdown’s going to benefit us consumers.

DIANE SWONK:“The fact that prices at the pump have come down, this is good news for the U.S. consumer and could be a much-needed money in their pocket before we hit the holiday season.”

And with lower prices and more money to spend, that could add up to a soft landing for the stressed out economy.

In New York, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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