Fed Signals Slow Path for Rate Increases

For Federal Reserve officials, the U.S. economy is a glass house where aggressive moves could break something.  While the median forecast of policy makers still calls for two interest-rate increases by year-end, more officials say just one would be enough in 2015. Still more advocate a go-slow approach to further tightening in 2016.

Projections from the Federal Open Market Committee published Wednesday showed that five officials foresee one increase in the federal funds rate this year, up from just a single policy maker who said so in March. And while policy makers said the economy has picked up after a first-quarter slump, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she still wants to see more “decisive” evidence of a lasting turnaround.

“There is concern about the fragility of the expansion,” said Jonathan Wright, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a former economist at the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs. “Growth in the first half of the year seems to have been very weak.”