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The Fed hasn’t gone crazy yet 


The Federal Reserve hasn’t gone overboard with rate hikes yet, according to Tilman Fertitta, host of CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer.”

“Absolutely you’re fine” with rates as they are now, Fertitta told CNBC’s Brian Sullivan in an interview Friday on “Power Lunch.” “I want them to slow down just a little bit, because I don’t want to go backwards. I don’t want them to raise it, and then all of a sudden say, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and they have to bring it back.”

Concerns over rising interest rates and trade tension with China have rattled markets the past few days. On Thursday, Wall Street closed sharply down, with the Dow falling over 540 points, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,300 points. On Friday equity markets tried to reclaim some ground after posting big losses over the last two sessions.

Despite the fears rattling markets, Fertitta, a restaurant, hotel and casino magnate who also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets, thinks the economy is pretty healthy.

“There’s no slowdown happening out there,” he said. “Remember, the markets are up 300 percent since ’09, and you’re going to have little corrections along the way — and it has happened over the last nine years. But there is not one catalyst or economic sign out there in the economy that is bringing anything down.”

But Fertitta did say he felt that rate hikes at too rapid a pace could kick off economic stagnation – he’s not alone in his thinking.

President Donald Trump has criticized the Fed for the stock market declines, saying Wednesday that he wasn’t happy with how the central bank continued to raise interest rates.

“The problem I have is with the Fed. The Fed is going wild. I mean, I don’t know what their problem is that they are raising interest rates and it’s ridiculous,” Trump said during a telephone interview Wednesday with Fox News.

Fertitta doesn’t want to see the Fed “start trying to raise [rates] four to six times next year,” but he also doesn’t think the central bank has gone crazy. He emphasized the need to find a happy medium, especially since rate hikes work to combat what Fertitta called “huge inflation.”

“People say there’s no inflation, but why does it cost us more to go to a restaurant, more to buy a car, more to stay in a hotel, like this? There is inflation out there,” Fertitta said, referring to the Post Oak Hotel in Houston, which he owns.

Costs might be going up, but so are wages, and Fertitta said so far he hasn’t seen rising interest rates or inflation impact the volume of customers at his restaurants, casinos or hotels.

“I have restaurants that hit all different types of demographics … everybody fits in a slot. The consumer at the lower level still watches, but the consumer at the upper level is still buying expensive wine, buying expensive steak, and everybody fits in their niche,” he said.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Alexandra Gibbs contributed reporting.


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