That’s the latest push, this time by Vice President Mike Pence. He’s as wrong, though, as President Donald Trump, for all that he’s more genteel in his push.
There’s no inflation happening here. The economy is roaring. This is exactly the time not only to not raise interest rates, but we ought to consider cutting them[.]
Pence made this remark on the heels of Labor’s employment report announcing strong job growth, rising wages, and 3.6% unemployment.
No. Interest rates where they are aren’t hindering our economy; on the contrary, they’re still a tad low. Our economy is flourishing for a number of reasons, one of which is that interest rates are approaching more natural levels, not being held at below free market rates. “Natural” here is defined in terms of the Federal Reserve’s legislated mandate—to maintain stable prices and low unemployment—and the Fed’s long-held optimal stable pricing goal of 2% inflation.
Cutting rates on the basis of a favorable jobs report (and one not entirely favorable: the labor force participation rate fell for the second straight month, and that rate is a factor in calculating the headline unemployment rate) would be a mistake. Instead, the Fed should move its benchmark rates to levels consistent with its 2% inflation goal and then sit down, be quiet, and accept that the economy and employment rates will be noisy around that level (or any other level).
Animal spirits, after all, are hormonal, but within surprisingly broad ranges, they keep correcting back.