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The last time the Fed raised interest rates

Tony Wagner Jun 17, 2015

With this week’s news conference, the Federal Reserve inched ever closer to raising interest rates, which have been flat since 2008. The last hike came in June 2006, after years of incidental .25 percent increases. The Fed indicated it was preparing for a slower increase this year, as it walked back forecasts of growth.

How much has the country changed since 2006? Let’s take a look back.

Economy

GDP growth took, of course, a steep dive in the past nine years, and by December 2008 interest rates were down to zero. These days, year-over-year growth is back at about 2006 levels:

Unemployment isn’t quite back to where it was in 2006, but still far from the double-digit rates we saw in the throes of recession.

Entertainment

2006 was a decent but unmemorable year at the box office. The highest-grossing film was a sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean,” a series that’s still going nine years later. Superheroes didn’t quite own the summer movie season like they do now, with just two poorly received “X-Men” and “Superman” movies. Presented without comment: 2006 also brought us “Borat.”

The biggest songs of 2006 came from plenty of acts that are still at it: Rihanna, Shakira and Pharrell all had number-one hits, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake had two each. That said, the biggest hit of the year was very 2006: Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day.”

Politics

Not unlike today, we had a Republican-controlled congress in 2006 and an election on the horizon. Senators and future presidential rivals John McCain and Barack Obama co-sponsored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which created USASpending.gov. As president, Obama signed Digital Accountability and Transparency Act into law last year, improving the data available on the site.

Then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain testify at a Senate hearing about their bill in July 2006.

Finally, a foiled terror plot involving liquid explosives promoted the TSA to institute its “3-1-1” rule in 2006, limiting what liquids travelers could bring on planes. 

Technology

“Blogs and podcasts are so 2005,” ABC News declared in December of that year. “In 2006, it’s going to be all about vlogs, mobisodes, and cell phones that can swipe credit cards.”

Sort of! Certainly, mobile and on-demand video have exploded in the past nine years, along with wider internet access and the rise of the smartphone. Plus, Square’s mobile payment service was on the way.

But two more innovations coming down the line in 2006 were more difficult to predict. The iPhone was only a questionable rumor in 2006, and Twitter quietly launched with a tweet from the man who was just made interim CEO last week.

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