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Fast-changing metrics may spoil FOMC minutes

Tim Fitzsimons Jul 7, 2015
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On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve releases notes from its last Open Market Committee meeting. Usually that’s a time for Fed watchers to comb through the details to try to divine what the Fed may do regarding its promise to raise interest rates. But this time it should be a little anticlimactic (and it’s not because the Fed ended its June meeting with a press conference, taking the wind out of the sails of this batch of meeting minutes). 

From three weeks ago, many things have happened,” explains Jeremy Siegel, a professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Siegel says flatlining wage growth and the sudden possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone have thrown fresh instability into the global economy. Some of the Fed’s members may have changed their minds from what they said in mid-June.

“One wonders whether a close reading of those minutes would really give you any valuable tea leaves,” Siegel says.

Michael Madowitz, an economist with the Center for American Progress, says he’s curious whether Fed officials are discussing the many possible scenarios of a Greek exit. He says some outcomes might even stimulate the U.S. economy. 

“If you’ve got a lot of money flying out of Europe, it’s got to go somewhere. The safe place to go is the U.S.,” he says.

Until the Greek crisis is settled, Fed watchers on the lookout for hints of a rate hike will be stuck gazing into a cloudy crystal ball.

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