The minutes from the Federal Reserve's early May meeting reveal a lack of consensus regarding future interest rate changes, bringing an air of uncertainty to markets today.
Officials expressed indecision about whether to continue raising rates or maintain the status quo.
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The minutes suggest that Fed officials are worried that increasing interest rates and tightening monetary policy could slow economic growth, meaning the Fed may stop raising rates soon. According to reports from the meeting, officials discussed whether more rate hikes were needed but reached no firm conclusion.
Although the reports are released weeks after the meeting, they offer important clues about officials' views and the potential direction of monetary policy.
The reports from the May meeting are particularly informative because the future path of monetary policy is unclear. They show that members disagreed on whether to raise interest rates again or keep them unchanged at their mid-June meeting.
Discussions at the meeting revealed the extent of disagreements. Some officials said rising inflation would probably warrant more rate increases, but several others did not think tighter monetary policy was necessary.
On balance, officials agreed to closely monitor economic data and keep their options open before the next meeting on June 13-14.
Some officials stressed that a change in the Fed's policy outlook should not signal an end to rate hikes this year or a bias toward cuts.
Officials have repeatedly said they do not expect to cut the federal funds rate this year and instead expect to leave the rate unchanged once it reaches an appropriately restrictive level.
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