The Fed’s inflation fight vs. the banks

If things get worse for America’s “embattled banks” in coming months, says David Ellis in, the Federal Reserve might be behind it. The Fed left rates unchanged at its meeting this week, but—ominously for banks—“left the door open to future rate hikes to curb inflation pressure.” The Fed’s recent “rate-cutting campaign” was one of the few “saving graces” for the banking industry during the credit crunch. Citigroup and other large banks have been the main beneficiaries of low rates. But smaller banks would “get stung the most” by a rate hike, which will “make an already tough lending environment even tougher” and start a bidding war for deposits.

The case for keepin’ on trucking

Wait a minute before you decide to sell your gas-guzzler, says Jennifer Openshaw in MarketWatch. If you run the numbers, you may find it wise to “resist the urge to sell,” at least right now. If you trade your 15 mile-per-gallon SUV for a new 25 mpg sedan, at 12,000 miles of driving a year, you’ll save about $1,440 in gas costs. Compare that to the steep costs of buying a new car—sales tax, monthly car payments—and the hit you’ll take from selling into a “soft market” saturated with used trucks and SUVs. So “do the math,” and maybe drive less, but keep your eyes open: “If you find a bargain, act.”