Earlier I posted some questions for next year: Ten Economic Questions for 2019. I'm adding some thoughts, and maybe some predictions for each question.
6) Monetary Policy: The Fed raised rates four times in 2018. Currently the Fed is forecasting two more rate hikes in 2019. Some analysts are forecasting three rate hikes. Will the Fed raise rates in 2019, and if so, by how much?
The Fed raised rates once in 2015, once again in 2016, three times in 2017, and four times in 2018. Currently the target range for the federal funds rate is 2-1/4 to 2‑1/2 percent.
There is a wide range of views on the FOMC. As of December, looking at the "dot plot", the FOMC participants see the following number of rate hikes in 2019:
|25bp Rate Hikes|
|One Rate Cut||0|
“We have made a further downgrade to our funds rate call. We now see a probability-weighted 1.2 hikes in all of 2019, from 1.6 hikes previously."The economy slowed in the 2nd half of 2018, and it seems likely the FOMC will "pause" in Q1 (and maybe for the first half of 2019). However, as the economy approaches full employment, the FOMC will be watching for any pickup in inflation, and that could lead to more rate hikes.