With Obama in power, it’s the governments job to do everything they can to make Hillary look good. The Federal Reserve is no exception. Just wait, once this election is over we will be seeing a very different market.
Scratch one big economic worry off the list for Hillary Clinton.
Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday kept their key interest rate steady, avoiding a potential stock market disruption and putting the central bank on the sidelines until after Election Day.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen also strongly rejected claims lobbed at her by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump that she is keeping rates artificially low to boost stock prices and aid Democrats.
“I can say emphatically that partisan politics plays no role in our decisions about the appropriate stance of monetary policy,” Yellen said at a news conference after the Fed announced its decision. “We do not discuss politics at our meetings and we do not take politics into account in our decisions.”
Nonetheless, the Fed’s actions can have significant political consequences.
The Federal Open Market Committee’s decision means voters are not likely to see big stock-price declines or a slowing economy before the Nov. 8 election. Clinton is counting on slowly improving views of the economy to hold off a late surge from Trump, who has made dissatisfaction with the sluggish pace of growth a centerpiece of his populist campaign. Stocks rose following the Fed’s announcement.
“The Clinton campaign should absolutely breathe a sigh of relief, because the market was just not positioned at all for a rate increase; there would have been total chaos,” said Brett Ewing, chief market strategist at First Franklin Financial Services. “Less drama is clearly good for the incumbent party.”
At her news conference, Yellen said she saw improvement in the U.S. economy but little evidence of risky inflation. And she said holding off on a hike could allow more people to come back into the labor force.
“We are generally pleased with how the U.S. economy is doing,” she said. “The economy has a little more room to run than might have been previously thought, and that’s good news. And remember that inflation continues below 2 percent.”
The move cheered investors who have driven stocks to fresh highs this year in large part fueled by the Fed’s continued easy money policy. Yellen and the Fed also offered reassuring words about the state of the economy while pointing to a possible rate hike in December.
“[T]he labor market has continued to strengthen and growth of economic activity has picked up from the modest pace seen in the first half of this year,” the Fed said in its eagerly awaited statement Wednesday. “The Committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened but decided, for the time being, to wait for further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives.”
The Fed’s decision on Wednesday is not a complete victory for the Clinton campaign.
By declining yet again to raise rates, the world’s most powerful central bank is signaling that it does not believe the U.S. economy is strong enough for even the slightest tightening of monetary policy. The Fed raised rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade. But it has been unwilling to do so again despite an unemployment rate of just 4.9 percent and warnings that inflation could spike in ways that would be difficult for the Fed to control.