Federal reserve

Don’t bet on interest rates rising

So is this really it: the end of the era of virtually zero interest rates? There was a marked pullback in US markets on Wednesday when Jay Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, indicated that yes, he really did mean it: interest rates are on the way up, if not quite yet. ‘The committee is of a mind to raise the federal funds rate at the March meeting assuming that conditions are appropriate for doing so.’ Share prices, which earlier in the day had risen in expectation of a doveish stance, fell back sharply. The very idea that a central bank might increase interest rates to tackle rising inflation

Inflation fears grow

Two months ago The Spectator reported on what was keeping Rishi Sunak awake at night ahead of the Budget: an inflation resurgence that could damage Britain’s economic recovery as it comes out of the pandemic. He deliberately designed his March Budget with inflation in mind, trying to make the UK’s finances ‘Biden-proof’ if inflation or interest rates started to move, and the cost of servicing the country’s debt became remarkably more expensive. At the time, Sunak was a lone voice on the matter. His inflation fears put the decision to raise tax into perspective, but many remained critical of his rather cautious approach. Inflation seemed a strange focus as the conditions