What Houstonians Have To Say About The Fed’s Interest Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised the interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point. There has been much debate among financial experts what this could mean for the economy. But how do Houstonians feel about it?


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photo of Jody Wheeless
Jody Wheeless, owner of a small Rice Village gift store, is not worried about the interest rate hike.

In Houston, there's some concern that an interest rate hike might slow down an economy that's already suffering from low oil prices.

Many Houstonians, though, more or less shrug it off.

"I don't think it's going to affect me personally, my business, so much," said Jody Wheeless, who owns The Village Firefly, a small gift store specializing in local art and other handcraft products.

She said an interest rate hike is necessary in the long run and right now she's not worried about it. She said she's more affected by the price of the barrel of oil.

Of course, oil prices are on a lot of people's minds here in Houston.

According to the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, oil and gas companies have laid off more than 56,000 people since December of last year in Texas alone.

And some economists say an interest rate hike could lead to even lower oil prices, because it could strengthen the dollar, making crude oil supplies more expensive, and reducing the demand for oil further.

Downtown Houston, home of 11 Fortune 500 companies, is a busy place around lunchtime, when many of the 140,000 or so people who work here go out to grab something to eat.

Among them is Mohamed Khalil, who works in the oil and gas industry. He is a little worried how the rate hike might affect his savings and 401(k).

"It just depends on how you look at it, to be honest," Khalil said. "So for me, yes, it might not be the best thing, but can we avoid it for a long time? That's the question."

It's this realism that keeps many of the Houstonians I talked to from losing sleep over the rate hike.

Debbie Scholl, who owns the FUNdamentally Toys store in Rice Village, perhaps sums it up best.

"You can take all these numbers and crunch them to support whatever theory you want," she said. "So, I'm going to go with, the Fed needs to do what the Fed needs to do."





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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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