Forex Blog: Currency Trading News & Analysis.

February 26th 2008

Fed in Lose-Lose Situation

Remember the expression "Goldilocks economy," used to to characterize the Fed’s perennial aim of simultaneously pursuing economic growth and price stability?  How about "stagflation," a term coined in the 1970s to describe a unique period in US economic history where low growth coincided with inflation.  Now, these two scenarios are being juxtaposed as the Goldilocks economy gives way to stagflation. The Fed is trying to delicately toe the line, as equity and home prices sink while prices rise; one index suggests prices have risen over 7% year-over-year.  The index more often cited, the CPI, reads 4.3%.  Both of these figures exceed current interest rate levels. 

What, then, is the Fed’s proper course of action, especially as far as Dollar bulls are concerned?  If it holds rates or contindfues to lower them, the economy could avert recession but prices would likely continue to climb, eroding the value of the Dollar.  On the other hand, if rates are hiked to mitigate against inflation, a recession would almost become inevitable, and the Dollar would feel the drag of capital being pulled overseas. The New York Times reports:

“February may go down in history as the month that the previously indefatigable U.S. consumer finally threw in the towel, beaten by a combination of deteriorating labor market conditions, surging prices for food and energy and collapsing house prices,”

Read More: As Inflation Rises, Home Values Slump, Data Show

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