Date
25 July 2017
IMF chief Christine Lagarde says when the US lifts rates, it should do it for good and not merely give it a try and then have to come back. Photo: Reuters
IMF chief Christine Lagarde says when the US lifts rates, it should do it for good and not merely give it a try and then have to come back. Photo: Reuters

IMF: Fed must be sure of jobs and prices before rate hike

US central bank officials must be certain the job market and inflation are strong enough to justify raising interest rates.

“The Fed has not raised interest rates in such a long time, that it should really do it for good, not give it a try and then have to come back,” International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said.

Largarde was speaking after a Group of 20 meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara focused on the pressure a US rate hike might have on the global economy.

“The IMF thinks that it is better to make sure that data are absolutely confirmed, that there is no uncertainty, neither on the front of price stability nor on the employment and unemployment front, before it actually makes that move.”

Traders are torn on when the Fed will raise interest rates, Bloomberg reports.

Bill Gross of Janus Capital Management sees an even chance that the Fed could raise or hold rates when it meets Sept. 16-17.

Investors scaled back expectations for the first US rate increase since 2006 after a selloff in China became a global stock market rout.

The Fed’s key interest rate has been frozen since 2008.

Fed officials explained their thinking on a possible rate increase during the G20 meeting, Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said.

“They made a series of comments about monetary policy with some factors that favor a rate increase and others that might push it back,” he said.

Fed Vice chairman Stanley Fischer gave a mixed review of the latest US jobs report in a briefing to G20 officials, Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

“He told us that the numbers in the US are excellent because unemployment went down from 5.3 to 5.1 percent, which is an excellent number, but then he immediately cautioned that the number of 173,000 additional jobs was an August figure and that the August figure wasn’t very reliable,” Gramegna said.

Emerging market officials at the G20 were divided on whether it’s better for the Fed to tighten its policy this month or later on, saying that there were “both sentiments in the room”, said the Luxembourg finance chief.

The gain in payrolls, while less than forecast, followed advances in July and June that were stronger than previously reported, the Labor Department said Friday.

The jobless rate was the lowest since April 2008.

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