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The Fed is famous for raising rates prematurely, seeing ghosts of inflation. But there is no inflation on the horizon -- the bigger worry is deflation. In fact, the inflation rate is well below the Fed's own target of two percent. And the Fed is the only game in town. On balance, I think the opponents of a rate hike have the better argument. But consider for a moment that last assumption -- that the Fed is the only game in town. The larger issue, which is getting submerged in the great debate about raising rates, is that the Fed should not be the only game in town. With fiscal stimulus ruled out politically, pressure is on the Fed to be the sole engine of growth. Yet the central bank can only do so much.
I've stated repeatedly that a massive amount of stimulus has been required to generate GDP growth of just 2.0%-2.5% annually since the end of the Great Recession (June 2009). We have further said that the removal or reversal of some of these stimulants will be a tough hurdle for the economy to overcome.