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Ben Bernanke

Will the Fed signal the next interest rate hike as strongly as this one?

Will the Fed signal the next interest rate hike as strongly as this one?

In the end, Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen had almost no choice.

For weeks she and her colleagues had given such loud and clear signals of an imminent rate interest hike that there was near-universal agreement on Wall Street that the historic action would be taken Wednesday. Financial markets already had priced in a quarter-point rate increase.

Had Yellen announced instead that the Fed was keeping its benchmark interest rate near zero for a little longer, it likely would have shocked markets and struck a severe blow to Yellen and the institution's credibility. She did not want to be accused again of dithering, as she was last fall after holding off a rate increase at...

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