Fed expects interest rates to hold steady for 'a time,' minutes reveal

In December, the FOMC voted unanimously to hold the benchmark federal funds rate steady at 1.5 percent to 1.75 this year

Policymakers at the Federal Reserve agreed during their two-day meeting in December the current interest rate range will remain appropriate for "a time," so long as the economy stays on its current path of growth.

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Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's Dec. 11-12 published Friday revealed that policymakers believed maintaining the current rate range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent would cushion the record-long economic expansion from a global growth slowdown.

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In December, the Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to hold the benchmark federal funds rate steady at 1.5 percent to 1.75 this year, bringing an end to the "mid-cycle adjustment" that included three minor interest rate cuts.

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Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged in December that it would take a "really significant" rise in inflation above the Fed's preferred 2 percent benchmark before policymakers reversed course and returned to interest rate hikes.

"We think our policy rate is appropriate and will remain appropriate as long as income data are broadly in keeping with our outlook," he told reporters at the time.

Still, some policymakers voiced concerns that interest rates are too low at their current level, making it more difficult for the U.S. central bank to address a recession in the future.

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“A few participants raised the concern that keeping interest rates low over a long period might encourage excessive risk-taking, which could exacerbate imbalances in the financial sector,” the minutes said.