What the Fed Hike Did (and Did Not) Do

Surprise! Why did it raise the discount rate unexpectedly?

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Thursday night, the Fed unexpectedly raised the discount rate--an interest rate it "charges banks for emergency loans." The surprise move shook global markets, and spurred speculation about whether this reflects a tightening of monetary policy.

  • Did a Lot of 'Damage,' writes Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider. He compiles a list:
Gold initially got crushed on the news, but has recovered a little bit. It's now right around the crucial $1110 mark ... The euro got whacked overnight. Japan got pummeled, falling 2.1%. Other Asian markets were down in the 2% range. In London, the FTSE is up modestly. Dow futures are down about 60.

  • Doesn't Signal a Trend, says Bill Gross, the manager of Pimco, the world's biggest bond fund: "I don't think it's the beginning, really, of a tightening from the standpoint of monetary policy ... I don't think it is the beginning of an increase in the fed-funds rate or in terms of interest on reserves that has been discussed as well."
  • Trend? You Betcha, writes Barbara Kiviat at Time: "The Great Unwind begins ... Now that the economy is starting to find its feet again, it's time to begin undoing all that easy money."
  • Banks May Eventually Be Threatened, writes The New York Times Dealbook blog: "Rising interest rates will invariably squeeze banks’ profit margins and reduce the value of some lenders’ own investments. Taken together, those developments will hurt banks’ bottom lines, a particular worry for the many small and midsize banks that are struggling to cope with the weak economy."
  • It Certainly Boosted the Dollar, reports Dan Burrows at Daily Finance: "The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, jumped 0.9% ahead of the open, a large move in currency terms. That put pressure on gold and oil futures. Gold lost another $7.50 an ounce, or 0.7%, to $1,111 and oil dropped 74 cents, or 0.9%, to $78.32 an ounce."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.