October 31, 2019— The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) cut the fed funds rate by 25 basis points, or bps, (0.25%) at its October meeting as expected, to a target range of 1.50%–1.75%. Similar to cycles in 1995 and 1998, when Federal Reserve rate reductions were seen as “insurance cuts” to ward off potential downturn, it has now cut rates three times, by a total of 75bps, leaving markets to wonder whether this “mid-cycle adjustment” has come to an end (Figure 1).
September 25, 2019—Despite nearly a year and a half of simmering (and at times boiling) trade tensions, the U.S. economy has continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace compared to 2018. Much of the economy’s resilience has stemmed from the strength of consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 70% of GDP growth. Though businesses have pared back investment in the face of ongoing uncertainty around trade policy, consumers have so far remained largely unfazed by the trade war.
June 27, 2019—Facebook’s June 18 announcement about the launch of Libra, a proposed new cryptocurrency, has sparked a renewed interest in the digital currency world. Libra is intended to be a new form of digital money that can be used to make purchases or transfer funds, domestically and globally, at a very low cost, using just a mobile phone.