The Federal Reserve is pausing its extended campaign against inflation, holding its benchmark interest rate steady and giving borrowers a breather after 11 hikes since March 2022.
The Fed said it will hold the federal funds rate in a range of 5.25% to 5.5%, the same level as it announced at its last meeting, in July. Economists had expected the central bank to hold its benchmark rate steady today, according to economists polled by financial data service FactSet.
Even though the Fed isn’t boosting rates today, borrowing costs are at their highest levels in 22 years, making it more expensive for Americans to take out loans like mortgages and to carry credit card debt. The central bank is seeking to tame the hottest inflation in four decades by damping demand for purchases like homes and cars, a battle that is showing some signs of progress as price increases have moderated this year.
But the Fed wants to tamp inflation without pushing the economy into a recession.
“Consumers have generally handled their business well as the Fed continued to raise rates, but we’re seeing signs that they’re beginning to struggle more and more,” said Matt Schulz, credit industry analyst for LendingTree, in an email prior to the rate announcement. “For example, according to the Fed, credit card debt has topped $1 trillion for the first time ever, and delinquency rates hit 2.77% in Q2 2023. That’s the highest level we’ve seen in more than a decade.”
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