WASHINGTON, March 24 Many business economists
expect the Federal Reserve to start raising U.S. interest rates
as early as this year, in contrast to forecasts on Wall Street
where the consensus is much more solidly in 2015.
A National Association for Business Economics survey
published on Monday found that a third of economists expected
the first rate hike this year. Fifty-three percent anticipated
an increase in 2015, with 40 percent believing that would occur
in the first half of next year.
"Higher interest rates appear to be in the cards," said NABE
survey chairman Timothy Gill, who is also deputy chief economist
at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.
The survey was conducted between Feb. 19 and March 5, with
48 economists participating.
It stood in contrast to a Reuters survey of 17 big bond
dealers taken after the Fed's latest policy pronouncements on
Wednesday, which found that the lion's share did not see a rate
hike until the second half of next year.
Similarly, a Reuters poll of 63 Wall Street economists
published early this month found only a handful expected the
U.S. central bank to start increasing overnight lending rates
this year. That median forecast from that poll pointed to a
lift-off date in the third quarter of next year.
The Fed slashed short-term rates to a record low close to
zero in December 2008 and committed to keep them there while it
nursed the economy back to health.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday suggested the central
bank could start raising interest rates six months after ending
its monthly bond buying program. The Fed is already reducing the
amount of bonds it is buying each month and is expected to
wrap-up the program later this year.
"Panelists anticipate the Fed will continue to taper its
long-term asset purchases throughout 2014, with the majority of
the panel expecting purchases to end entirely in the fourth
quarter," said Gill.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)