It may be the most heavily anticipated quarter percentage point in history.
At 2 p.m. EST, the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting committee—the Federal Open Market Committee—announced that it is raising its benchmark short-term interest rate, the Federal funds rate, by a quarter point. It’s the first increase since 2006. Fed chair Janet Yellen held a press conference at 2:30 p.m.
The Fed funds rate has been near zero since late 2008, as the US central bank was desperately trying to support a wobbling financial system and an economy in the midst of a deep recession.
It turned out to be the worst for the US since the Great Depression. What came to be known as the Great Recession ended in June 2009. But it was followed by a painfully sluggish recovery, which prompted the Fed to keep the Fed funds rate at zero, as it engaged in a broad range of unconventional efforts to do what it could to support economic growth.
Today that seven-year stretch of “zero interest rate policy”—ZIRP—came to an end, marking an important turn for the US economy and the world’s as a whole. Stay with as we gather facts, opinion, and—of course—charts from around the web in order to give you some context.