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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fed Raises Discount Rate

Is this the beginning of the Fed's turnaround and tightening?

The Federal Reserve on Thursday raised its discount rate to 0.75% from 0.5%, an effort to return its lending facilities to more normalized levels.

The Fed said the move, along with other recent modifications to its credit programs, does not signal a change in its outlook for the economy or for monetary policy, and the more important fed funds rate remains in its range of 0% to 0.25%.

The Discount Rate is what the Federal Reserve charges banks to borrow in order to meet reserve requirements.

The Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, was very careful to use mild language in describing the future stance. The Fed Funds Rate was held at 0-.25%. So, it's still unclear if this is small augmentation or if it is the beginning of more serious.

The equity markets will be of great interest over the next few weeks. When Alan Greenspan raised rates suddenly, that popped the internet bubble. This was also a mild surprise and futures are already down on the news. So, it will be interesting to see what sort of a reaction equities will have.

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