Speed Reads

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Why the Fed's much-promised interest rate increase might herald a new era of crime

The Federal Reserve has for months toyed with the idea of raising interest rates, repeatedly suggested rate hikes are forthcoming, and then backed off when economic forecasts offer a less sunny context than the central bank would prefer for its next move. But if the Fed does move ahead with its plans, the United States might also experience a bump from its current crime rates, which are at a historic low.

There's no direct causal relationship, of course, but crime rates offer a remarkably consistent mirror of interest rates over the past six decades. Social scientists argue that higher interest rates lead to economic stress, including job losses, and that in turn makes crime more likely. Increased divorce, suicide, and alcoholism are also correlated with greater economic stress.

For more on whether the Fed can or should go through with its rate hike promises, check out these analyses from The Week's Jeff Spross.