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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in a speech Friday, said the case for a rate hike had strengthened, but left open the timing. Fed Vice-chair Stanley Fischer followed up by saying a September hike was a possibility. The Fed will have plenty of economic data in the next few days culminating in Friday’s Jobs Report for August.

The market is pricing in a 42% chance of a September interest-rate hike and a 64.7% probability of a rate hike by the end of the year. Over the weekend and today, I read several articles that seemed to relay the basic idea that the Fed is confused and the outlook for rate hikes is muddied. Probably not. I don’t think it’s a done deal but Yellen was pretty straightforward. They haven’t made a decision yet.

If Yellen really wanted to say something straightforward, I think the best thing would be to say the Fed won’t be doing anything right now; they’ve done all they can, and now the politicians in Washington need to do something for the economy.

Americans increased spending by 0.3% in July, buying more new cars and trucks and devoting more money to utilities such as cooling their homes. What’s helped consumers has been a gradual increase in incomes and lower gasoline prices. Personal income rose 0.4% last month. Since incomes rose faster than spending, the personal savings rate climbed to 5.7% from 5.5%.

Inflation as measured by the PCE index was unchanged in July. The core rate of inflation that strips out the volatile food and energy categories rose 0.1%. The PCE index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation barometer, increased 0.8% in the 12 months ended in July, a tick lower than in June. The annual rate of core inflation was flat at 1.6%.

Japan’s Nikkei climbed 2.3% overnight as the yen weakened against the resurgent dollar following Yellen’s comments. Adding to pressure on the currency, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said at Jackson Hole on Saturday that there was ample space for further easing of monetary policy via QE or by cutting interest rates deeper into negative territory.

Hackers have breached databases for election systems in Illinois and Arizona. The FBI has been investigating. In late May, Arizona officials took the statewide voting registration system offline after the FBI alerted the Arizona Department of Administration that there was a credible cyber threat to the voter registration system. When they took the system offline to review any vulnerabilities, they discovered that a county election official’s username and password had been posted online publicly.

It’s believed that a worker may have inadvertently downloaded a virus which exposed the username and password. In this instance, the username and password information posted would only give individuals access to a localized, county version of the voting registration system, and not the entire state-wide system. There is no evidence that any data within the system was...


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