Fed's window for 2015 rate hike is closing quickly

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Inside the mind of the Fed

The Federal Reserve may have missed its last, best chance to raise interest rates this year.

With the U.S. central bank passing last week on what was once supposed to be a lead-pipe cinch for a rate hike, the likelihood is rising that there may not be a move at all in 2015.

There are just two Federal Open Market Committee meetings left in the year, and both present problematic scenarios for action.

October lacks a scheduled post-meeting news conference, which Chair Janet Yellen uses once a quarter to explain rationale behind the FOMC's thinking both in its rate decisions and economic forecasts. Yellen has insisted that should the committee decide to act in October, it simply could schedule an impromptu news conference. Doing so, though, would tip the Fed's hand immediately and risk causing a market shock.

December is considered a likely scenario by many market participants, but that presents challenges as well. Market activity slows to a crawl around the holiday season, meaning that any jolt to the market, particularly the fixed income side, could be magnified.

In all, a year that was supposed to represent a return to normal, or at least steps in the that direction, is now turning into more of the same for the U.S. central bank.