The Federal Reserve had a tricky job balancing its fight against runaway inflation with the potential for a full-blown banking crisis if it were to make the wrong move yesterday. The middle ground where it landed was an as-expected quarter-point increase in borrowing rates, which nodded to banking sector fragility without letting up entirely on inflation.

The economists and financial experts we asked to react to the decision pretty much agreed: That was a good call.

“The Fed decided, with so much uncertainty about the impact the recent turmoil will have on the economy, the risk of causing more damage was greater than the risk of inflation,” write economists Joerg Bibow and Marketa Wolfe. “It was able to do this in large part because there are clear signs inflation has come down.”

At the same time, by continuing to raise rates, the Fed signaled that “the inflation battle must go on,” argues Jeffery S. Bredthauer, a finance expert at the University of Nebraska Omaha. And this “shows that it has confidence in the banking system.”

But perhaps the fight is nearing its end. Arabinda Basistha, an economist at West Virginia University, explains why he expects a pause in interest rates as early as this fall.

Also today:

Bryan Keogh

Deputy Managing Editor and Senior Editor of Economy and Business

Fed chair Jerome Powell opted for a cautious approach on rates. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Federal Reserve bows to bank-crisis fears with quarter-point rate hike, letting up a little in its fight against inflation

Jeffery S. Bredthauer, University of Nebraska Omaha; Arabinda Basistha, West Virginia University; Joerg Bibow, Skidmore College; Marketa Wolfe, Skidmore College

The Fed raised rates by a quarter-point – less aggressive than had been expected before the current banking crisis, but signaling inflation is still its focus.

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