The US Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates another quarter of a point on Tuesday, and it suggested that it would keep raising them gradually over the next year. \nIt was the Fed's third rate increase in three months. Coming less than seven weeks before the presidential election on Nov. 2, the decision pushed the federal funds rate on overnight loans between banks up to 1.75 percent from 1.5 percent. \nWhile incumbent presidents nor-mally cringe at the prospect of higher rates before an election, the increases are not expected to pose a threat to President George W. Bush because consumers and businesses have felt almost no tangible impact. \nLong-term interest rates, which determine home mortgage rates and many commercial loans, have edged down since June as fears of inflation have receded. \nAnd because this was the Fed's last policy meeting before the election, consumers are unlikely to feel any more pinch from rates before the election than they have already. \n"If anything, the effect on consumers has been positive," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo Bank in Minneapolis. \nRates on 30-year fixed rate mortgages have declined from about 6.25 percent in June to 5.63 percent in the middle of this month, and the housing market remains almost as hot as ever. Stock and bond markets reacted very little to the decision, suggesting that long-term interest rates are likely to remain steady through the election as well. \nShortly before the Fed announced its decision, the Commerce Department reported that housing construction, which had been expected to slow as rates went up, climbed to an annual rate of 2 million homes last month. That was the highest level in five months. \nThe main question ahead of Tuesday's decision was whether the central bank would signal any change in its goal of raising rates at a measured pace of regular quarter-point increases over the next year. \nIt did not, and if anything expressed greater optimism about the economy and therefore greater confidence about raising rates than it did after its previous policy meeting on Aug. 10. \n"Output growth appears to have regained some traction, and labor market conditions have improved modestly," the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement accompanying its decision. \nReiterating previous statements, the Fed stressed that interest rates were still low. \n"Even after this action, the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative," the Fed said in its statement. \nFed officials have made it clear that short-term rates, which were pushed down to 1 percent last year, are too low to be sustainable.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a