The New York Times’ editorial board has once again called on the Federal Reserve to hold off from raising rates.
In an editorial published on Monday, the board said that wages have not grown at a solid-enough pace in this recovery to counteract the plunge following the last economic crisis.
The board wrote (emphasis added):
Policy makers should be focused on strategies to raise wages, but the opposite appears to be happening. Just as Congress enfeebled the economy by switching too soon from stimulus spending to budget cuts, Federal Reserve officials have all but vowed to begin raising interest rates this year. That move reflects a belief that the economy is returning to “normal,” but it would be premature, because today’s norm is an economy that is incapable of generating and sustaining broad prosperity.
The Times notes that median wages have fallen 3% in this recovery. And rather than increase the average worker’s pay, the gains from higher productivity have gone to executives and shareholders.
On Friday, the August jobs report showed that average hourly earnings rose 0.3% month-over-month and 2.5% year-on-year, beating expectations. However, this is broadly on trend with the lacklustre pace of wage growth we saw in previous months.
The board wrote: “Wage stagnation is a clear sign that the economy is not at full employment, which means it needs loose monetary policy, not tightening. An interest rate hike, by sending the wrong signal of economic health, could make it harder for labour groups and policy makers to assert the urgency of their efforts to raise pay.”
Back in March, The Times called on the Fed to delay raising rates. The editorial board made a similar argument on the labour market, saying that “wages have barely budged throughout the nearly six-year old recovery.”
That was ahead of the June meeting — a time when many in the market expected the Fed to raise rates.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Fed fund futures reflected a 30% chance that the FOMC will raise the benchmark rate for the first time in over nine years at its meeting next week.
However, some strategists on Wall Street including Deutsche Bank’s David Bianco have called for a hike this month, since much of the other economic data has been upbeat.
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