Consumer Alert: The Fed raises rates again. Read more to find out the best time to take out a loan

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The price you pay to borrow money is going up again. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates a quarter point.  While this is lower than other rate hikes, it’s not good news if you want to buy a house or a car.

The Feds have now raised rates nine times since early last year.  They’re trying to tame inflation, without great success. The jobs and inflation numbers in January and February were higher than expected, so we all knew another rate hike was likely.

But then Silicon Valley Bank collapsed in a spectacular fashion.  Next Signature Bank here in New York went down in flames.  Then First Republic in California came close to failure before big banks provided a parachute, pouring 30 billion bucks into the beleaguered bank on the brink of collapse. The Feds say this weakness in the banking sector will likely cause banks to tighten their standards, making it harder for consumers like you and me to get a loan. How will that affect the economy? The Fed chief says he doesn’t know yet.

“It is too soon to tell the effects and too soon to know how monetary policy should respond,” said Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.  “As a result, we no longer state that we anticipate that ongoing rate increases will be necessary to quell inflation. Instead, we anticipate that some policy firming may be appropriate.”

Okay, let me translate. He says before the banking crisis, the Feds were certain it would likely keep increasing rates through the end of the year. Now Powell says they’ll do some “policy firming.” Translation – The Feds now plans fewer less aggressive rate hikes.

In a poll of the board, the average of their predictions was a slight increase in rates by the end of the year, but a decrease of almost a full point by the end of next year, and another decrease of more than a point by the end of 2025.

So, if you’re thinking about a big purchase like a house or a car, consider the Fed’s predictions. Can you wait about 18 months to buy that new car?  And why not wait until 2025 to buy that new house when rates might be down as much as two full percentage points?

Of course, the Fed’s educated guesses are just that, guesses.  Remember when Powell told us inflation would be transitory?  Still, I think I’ll hang on to my 12-year-old car another year. She’s running okay, and I’m in no rush.