Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has made it clear that the central bank will begin raising interest rates this year if economic growth continues apace.
One of the main reason why the Fed wants to act is to give itself room to cut rates again the next time the economy is at risk, says MarketWatch columnist Caroline Baum
The Fed has kept its federal funds rate target at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008. Analysts and traders are divided over whether the Fed will start its rate hikes in September or December.
As for the central bank's eagerness to act, "I suspect Fed officials are terrified of being caught with their pants down, in a manner of speaking," Baum writes.
"Should some unforeseen event come along to upend the economy, the Fed’s arsenal would be dry. They’d like to put some space between their policy rate and zero."
Elsewhere on the central bank front, New York Sun editors are none too impressed with the Fed's resistance to closer oversight from Congress.
Many Fed officials cite the central bank's political independence as an important factor in their ability to fight the 2008 financial crisis.
But "the New York Fed was just found by a federal court to have broken the law in the course managing this crisis," a Sun editorial notes
. The court found that the New York Fed's establish of an 80 percent equity ownership and voting control in AIG “constituted an illegal exaction under the Fifth Amendment.”
The New York Fed should be concerned about its own governance rather than worrying about congressional efforts to rein in the central bank, Sun editors say.
"The Congress of the United States is a lens of angels compared to the Fed, whose chairman [Janet Yellen] has been on the Hill declaring she would oppose any rule — even, for goodness sakes, a voluntary one that the Fed itself would establish — for monetary policy."
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