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Fed's regional bank boards ramp up the call for a rate increase

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 06:31
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The boards of directors at nine of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks last month sought an increase in the rate on direct loans from the Fed to 1.25 per cent from one per cent, minutes released by the US central bank Tuesday show.

[WASHINGTON] The boards of directors at nine of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks last month sought an increase in the rate on direct loans from the Fed to 1.25 per cent from one per cent, minutes released by the US central bank Tuesday show.

The Atlanta Fed joined the calls for an increase in the discount rate, pushing the number of regional banks asking for a hike to its highest since Dec 2015. That month was the last time the Fed raised the federal funds rate, a separate interest rate that is its primary policy tool.

Discount rate votes can be viewed as a signal of whether a bank's president favours a change in the main rate.

"Most directors noted tighter US labour markets across skill levels and different sectors, accompanied by upward pressures on compensation for many categories of workers," according to the minutes.

Most directors recommended the increase "in light of actual and expected strengthening in economic activity and labour markets, which should foster a gradual return of inflation to 2 per cent over the medium term."

FOMC Voters

Atlanta joined Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, St Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco in asking for a discount rate increase. Those banks are home to all four regional presidents who currently hold rotating votes in the policy making Federal Open Market Committee.

The boards of the New York, Minneapolis and Chicago Feds voted to keep the rate unchanged. Of the presidents from those banks, only New York's William Dudley has a vote on policy.

The discount rate is the interest rate charged to banks and depository institutions for loans received from Fed's lending facility.

The Board of Governors in Washington must approve any change in the discount rate. They didn't approve any change when they met in September and have left it at one per cent since December.

BLOOMBERG