The U.S. economy is not too fragile for a rate hike, nor would a December rate hike be a premature tightening of monetary policy, said Jeffrey Cleveland, Chief Economist at Payden & Rygel. 'The consumer is still spending at what looks like a 3% annualized rate through the third quarter so I know the recent retail sales number was weak, but take into account autos and other things and it still looks pretty good,' said Cleveland, adding that he believes a hike is still on the table, although his conviction level is declining. Cleveland said inflation it is not as low as most Wall Street economists make it out to be and the U.S. is 'nowhere close to deflation.' He said wage growth is not anemic if one looks at alternative measures of wage growth, such as the Atlanta Fed’s Wage Tracker, which is up 3.2% this year. The Atlanta Fed’s Wage Tracker tries to determine what a common person makes this year compared to last year. 'I would personally want more than 3.2% in terms of wage growth but it’s not as low as people think and it seems to be trending higher.' When it comes to the stubbornly low 2% yield on the 10-year Treasury bond, Cleveland said it’s not a representation of the true strength of the U.S. economy. 'I think it is reflective of the global need for safe and liquid assets, that’s the biggest trend we have for longer term interest rates,' said Cleveland.