US interest rates are low. Almost impossibly low. And they’ve been low for a long time.
A lot of people (Richmond Fed president Jeff Lacker, for one) think they should be higher because the economy has come a long way since the recession. Other people (Quartz’s Matt Phillips among them) think they don’t need to be higher because things could always be better. This is a very hotly debated point.
Well, God has apparently weighed in, using Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of California as his vessel. During Fed chair Janet Yellen’s congressional testimony today (Nov. 4), he let her know that God is an advocate of lower-for-longer. Sherman’s quote in full, courtesy of a CSPAN clip surfaced by Binyamin Applebaum of the New York Times:
As I argued then, back in the summer, God’s plan is not for things to rise in the autumn. As a matter of fact, that’s why we call it fall. Nor is it’s God’s plan for things to rise in winter, through the snow. God’s plan is that things rise in the spring. So if you want to be good with the almighty, you might want to delay until May.
Yellen should be familiar with God’s thinking since she is basically the pope of money. Per William Greider, author of Fed history Secrets of the Temple:
The system is just like the Church. … It’s got a pope, the chairman; and a college of cardinals, the governors and bank presidents; and a curia, the senior staff. The equivalent of the laity is the commercial banks. If you’re a naughty parishioner in the Catholic church you come to confession. In this system, you come to the discount window for a loan
It’s unclear whether this congressional layman has a better line to the Great Policymaker Upstairs than the pope of money. But there’s a slowly building belief that the Fed may act to raise rates at its December gathering, thanks to a specific reference to its “next meeting” in the third paragraph of its October policy statement and other hints she’s been dropping (some from today).
If that’s the case, we’ll divine God’s will soon enough.