Outgoing Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair on Friday said it may be time to think about implementing a slow increase in interest rates to make bank lending more profitable. Bair’s comments come as some bankers have been criticizing the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy, insisting that it is hurting bank profitability and is that it is impeding the lending environment. The Fed on Wednesday held interest rates at record-low levels as its controversial $600 billion bond-buying program came to an end. The central bank said it planned on keeping rates low for an “extended” period of time.
“That is an interesting debate, and I hear that from a lot of bankers that a gradual increase in interest rates could make lending more profitable and therefore provide more incentives for lending,” Bair said to reporters at the National Press Club after her last official speech as chairman of the agency. “It is an argument that the Federal Reserve board is very aware of and there is the counter argument in terms of economic impact [of raising interest rates]. Maybe it’s time to think about it a little more.”
With Mortgage Interest Rates at an all time low of 2011, the window to refinance may soon be closing.