NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Speculating about the timing of the next Federal Reserve interest rate hike is always a popular past time, but it's likely to reach a fever pitch over the next few days.
After a week of dizzying market swings on Wall Street, some are wondering whether the markets are just to jumpy to handle a rate increase. On Wednesday, New York Fed President William Dudley indicated that a September rate hike "seems less compelling."
The market is currently pricing in about a 24% chance of a rate hike next month, but several economists and market watchers think the market has it wrong. "If they had to decide today they would not go -- but they do not decide until Sept. 17," said Michael Drury, chief economist for McVean Trading & Investments, a brokerage firm based in Memphis. Drury said between now and then, there's "plenty of time for markets to stabilize, and for fresh data on employment and retail activity to show the U.S. is doing fine -- or at least will be over the next several months and years."
Thursday's upward revision to second-quarter GDP also bolsters the Fed's case, according to Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services Group (PNC - Get Report), who adds that a solid reports on employment for August and retail sales would give policymakers 'confidence' to hike in September. He also predicts the Fed will revise up its 2015 real GDP growth forecast to a rate of 2.0% to 2.3%, up from its June projection of a rate of 1.8% to 2%.
Josh Rosner, managing partner at Graham Fisher, sees the Fed moving just once this year. "Economic data is the key, and growth, albeit low, gives [the Fed] the justification to take rates up in September and it won't want to risk missing the chance," he said.
That view is also shared by David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. "The economic case for now is good enough. Waiting sends a message that oil prices or China currency are policy drivers. That is dangerous," said Kotok, who also believes the Fed will raise rates once in September and remain on the sidelines for the rest of the year.
Others believe a September increase is premature. "The dollar alone in the past year has been over 150 basis points of tightening," said David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff. "And look at Canada as a textbook case -- raised rates three times and now forced to unwind them."
Martin Barnes, chief economist at BCA Research, noted that "the Fed is desperate to get away from zero rates and they will be very frustrated that September is slipping away. So now they will be hoping to move in either October or December." Barnes also said the "health of the domestic economy would still warrant moving in September but not much else does. More importantly, inflation expectations have fallen sharply and that's something the Fed pays attention to."
More clarity on the Fed's current inflation views might come on Saturday, when Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer is expected to speak about inflation at the annual Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wy.