The Federal Reserve expects to raise its benchmark interest rate either this December or in 2018.
During September's meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee members discussed the low and unsteady rate of inflation, which persists despite continued low interest rates. The Federal Reserve aims for a 2% rate of annual inflation, a number which lightly encourages spending and investment while also giving the economy a buffer against deflation. Inflation has stayed below this rate every year since the Great Recession, and will likely do so again in 2017. Nevertheless, meeting notes indicate they felt that continued strength in other economic indicators, including the consumer price index, might merit an increase.
In part, this is because FOMC members, including Chairwoman Janet Yellen, are concerned that the economy could begin an inflationary cycle at any time. Once begun, it can take months or even years to slow down rates of inflation, so the Fed prefers to forestall the issue whenever it can. As a result it changes interest rates less in response to current conditions than in response to what it believes those conditions mean for future growth and inflation rates.
Several market watchers have suggested that the Fed would be premature to raise rates in the face of a job market which still hasn't fully shared in the economic recovery. However if a cycle of inflation does begin, here are ten major effects it will tend to have.