Fortune Investor Data
Big Greenspan is watching. Just as nearly everyone expected, the Fed passed on an interest-rate hike Tuesday; however, it did shift its "policy bias" from neutral to slightly worried. "While the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] did not take action today," the Fed said afterward, "the committee was concerned about the potential for a buildup of inflationary imbalances that could undermine the favorable performance of the economy." Though they couldn't have been surprised, stock marketeers did gulp a little, sending the Dow down 50 points or so after the afternoon announcement. By the end of trading, the Dow had slipped by just over 16 points.
The overall outcome? Don't sweat it, folks. "Once they digest this news, the markets will go right back up," says TIME senior economics reporter Bernard Baumohl. "What they'll realize is that only once in recent memory did the Fed actually raise rates following a bias shift in that direction." Of course, this walk-on-water economy of ours hasn't given Greenspan cause to raise rates in quite a while either; the fear is that that could change. Baumohl says Greenspan, as always, will wait and see. "Those price numbers were just the whiff of inflation," he says. "Raising rates now could have put the feeble Asian recovery in jeopardy." What keeps the markets happy is that the man on top has a discriminating nose.