This week we chat with Mickey D. Levy, chief economist of the Americas and Asia, Berenberg Capital Markets. Mickey is a long-standing member of the Shadow Open Market Committee and conducts research on a wide range of global economic, financial and policy issues.
The Lead Left: Mickey, we seem to be at an inflection point in the economy. If you were the Fed, would you raise rates?
Mickey Levy: The economy has been growing at a comfortable rate—not rapid, but OK—and the probability of recession is very low. Inflation is modestly below the Fed’s longer run 2% target. Keeping the Federal funds rate anchored to zero is absolutely inconsistent with these conditions, and the Fed should definitely hike rates. Keeping rates artificially low has costs: economic and financial distortions and risks are mounting. And most people and even the Fed are seemingly unaware of history: in all prior Fed rate increase cycles, economic performance is unharmed, with sustained growth, and the stock market maintains recent gains or goes up further.