The consensus among Federal Reserve watchers is that the Fed will begin raising interest rates around mid-year.
But New York Post columnist John Crudele
disagrees. "When the appointed hour comes this summer or fall, I think the Fed will balk," he writes. "The economy just isn't doing that well, even after U.S. financial data are gussied up to make it look like we have the prettiest economy on the planet."
GDP expanded 2.4 percent last year, the fastest growth since 2010.
If Crudele is wrong about the Fed's timing, he sees several negative ramifications.
"Investors are going to lose a lot of money in the fixed-income market," he predicts.
"Washington's deficit will go up. Not only will Uncle Sam have to pay more to borrow money in the open market but also the fake profits being turned over to the Treasury by the Fed will cease," Crudele adds.
"The value of the dollar will rise some more. . . . Companies that do business overseas will have their profits pinched even more than they have already been." The dollar has risen to multi-year highs against a range of currencies in recent weeks.
Star CNBC commentator Ron Insana agrees with Crudele on the timing issue. "I don't think the Fed will raise rates at all in 2015, owing to a weakening world economy and a strengthening U.S. dollar," he writes in a commentary for CNBC
"However, if the Fed believes the normalization process should begin this year, I would suggest an even more modest proposal that might allow the central bank to gently test the market and economic waters."
The Fed's federal funds rate target has stood at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008.
Insana's idea: "the Fed could lift the floor of the fed-funds target to the current effective rate of 0.125 percent, while leaving the ceiling at 0.25 percent," he says.
"The snugging of policy would represent a first step in normalization but would allow the Fed the luxury of monitoring the economy and market's response to that move toward normalization."
If things go well, the Fed could continue to gradually increase rates, Insana says. If not, it could back off.
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