The quandary facing the Federal Reserve this summer is the same as it was back in the spring, and winter, and last fall: By traditional guideposts like the unemployment rate, it looks as if it is time for the Fed to be raising interest rates. Yet the global economy seems to be locked in a low-growth, low-inflation world in which raising interest rates is at best unnecessary and at worst dangerous.

That tension was on display Wednesday in the minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting, which raised the possibility of rate increases as early as September.


The result of all that debate at the July 26-27 meeting was affirming the status quo -- agreement that "it was prudent to accumulate more data in order to gauge the underlying momentum in the labor market and economic activity" and that "members judged it appropriate to continue to leave their policy options open and maintain the flexibility to adjust the stance of policy based on incoming information."

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